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African savanna raptors show evidence of widespread population collapse and a growing dependence on protected areas

Shaw, P., Ogada, D., Dunn, L., Buij, R., Amar, A., Garbett, R., Herremans, M., Virani, M. Z., Kendall, C. J., Croes, B. M., Odino, M., Kapila, S., Wairasho, P., Rutz, C., Botha, A., Gallo-Orsi, U., Murn, C. ORCID:, Maude, G. and Thomsett, S. (2024) African savanna raptors show evidence of widespread population collapse and a growing dependence on protected areas. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 8 (1). pp. 45-56. ISSN 2397-334X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1038/s41559-023-02236-0


The conversion of natural habitats to farmland is a major cause of biodiversity loss and poses the greatest extinction risk to birds worldwide. Tropical raptors are of particular concern, being relatively slow-breeding apex predators and scavengers, whose disappearance can trigger extensive cascading effects. Many of Africa’s raptors are at considerable risk from habitat conversion, prey-base depletion and persecution, driven principally by human population expansion. Here we describe multiregional trends among 42 African raptor species, 88% of which have declined over a ca. 20–40-yr period, with 69% exceeding the International Union for Conservation of Nature criteria classifying species at risk of extinction. Large raptors had experienced significantly steeper declines than smaller species, and this disparity was more pronounced on unprotected land. Declines were greater in West Africa than elsewhere, and more than twice as severe outside of protected areas (PAs) than within. Worryingly, species suffering the steepest declines had become significantly more dependent on PAs, demonstrating the importance of expanding conservation areas to cover 30% of land by 2030—a key target agreed at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity COP15. Our findings also highlight the significance of a recent African-led proposal to strengthen PA management—initiatives considered fundamental to safeguarding global biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and climate resilience.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:114437


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