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Population and spatial breeding dynamics of a Critically Endangered Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps bengalensis colony in Sindh Province, Pakistan

Murn, C., Saeed, U., Khan, U. and Iqbal, S. (2015) Population and spatial breeding dynamics of a Critically Endangered Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps bengalensis colony in Sindh Province, Pakistan. Bird Conservation International, 25 (4). pp. 415-425. ISSN 0959-2709

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1017/S0959270914000483

Abstract/Summary

The Critically Endangered Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps bengalensis has declined across most of its range by over 95% since the mid-1990s. The primary cause of the decline and an ongoing threat is the ingestion by vultures of livestock carcasses containing residues of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, principally diclofenac. Recent surveys in Pakistan during 2010 and 2011 revealed very few vultures or nests, particularly of White-backed Vultures. From 2011 in the Tharparkar District of Sindh Province we monitored a colony of Oriental White-backed Vultures. Between 2011 and 2014 the number of active nests in this colony increased from 11 to 34 while nest density decreased from 13.7 to 9.2 nests km -2 , suggesting that the colony is expanding. We conclude that the rate of increase is being subsidised by immigration, as the population demographics do not support the observed rate of increase in nests. We present the first analysis of spatial breeding dynamics for the Oriental White-backed Vulture and describe how a clustered pattern of nest trees in colonies supports a highly clustered pattern of nests. The spatial pattern of nests relies on both the distribution of trees and the ability of trees to support more than one nest. These results highlight that the preservation of larger nest trees and the sustainable management of timber resources are essential components for the conservation management of this species. We emphasise the high importance of this colony and a nearby Long-billed Vulture Gyps indicus colony in this area of Pakistan. Recommended conservation management actions include the continuation of a Vulture Safe Zone established in 2012, measuring breeding success, assessing dispersal and determining the impact of mortality on these populations.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:82070
Publisher:Cambridge University Press

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