Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Researchers tracking endangered scavengers

Researchers tracking endangered scavengers

Researchers tracking endangered scavengers

Wildlife researchers have fitted satellite tracking devices to three critically

endangered vultures in northeast Cambodia, giving boffins new insight into the

habits of the large scavengers.

Birdlife International and the Wildlife

Conservation Society (WCS) trapped seven vultures in Chhep district of Preah

Vihear province.

Of those seven, two slender-billed vultures and one

white-rumped vulture were fitted with satellite transmitter units provided by

the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (Birdlife in the UK). Two

threatened red-headed vultures were also caught.

Samples were taken from

all seven birds before they were wing-tagged, leg-banded and released.

"By fixing satellite transmitters and monitoring vulture movements, we

develop a greater understanding of their range size, habitat preferences, and

seasonal movements. This increased understanding of ecological parameters allows

us to develop more effective, targeted conservation actions and management

guidelines," said Dr Sean Austin, manager of Birdlife International's Cambodia

Programme, in a statement released July 1.

Maps of the tagged vultures

from May 2005 show that all three birds left the trapping area soon after

capture and settled quite close to each other, approximately 80km to east.

Vultures are examples of what conservationists call "dispersed species".

They range at low population densities over large areas in search of food. The

hunting of Cambodia's wild ungulates has greatly reduced the availability of

food for the vultures, forcing them to forage over wider areas, which in turn

increases their vulnerability.

In addition to the slender-billed and

white-rumped vultures, the Indian Vulture (Gyps indicus) is presently considered

critically endangered.

In India the population has decreased by more

than 97% since 1993, and Pakistan is losing 30 to 40 percent of its vultures

annually.

Research has revealed that these dramatic declines are caused

by veterinary use of the drug diclofenac, widely used when treating livestock.

If South Asian populations of these species diminish completely, only two small,

wild populations of white-rumped and slender-billed vultures will remain, one in

north Cambodia and southern Laos, and the other in Myanmar.

MOST VIEWED

  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • Sam Rainsy, government group set to clash at IPU Geneva meet?

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy has been invited to speak at the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, according to a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker. A government delegation is also set to attend the meeting, a National Assembly press release