Date of this Version
Martens, F.R., M.B. Pfeiffer, C.T. Downs, and J.A. Venter. 2018. Post-fledging movement and spatial ecology of the endangered Cape Vulture (Gyps coprothers). Journal of Ornithology. Online: 1-10. doi: 10.1007/s10336-018-1564-x
The post-fledging dependence period (PFDP) is one of the most critical stages in the life history of some avian species. Birds are particularly sensitive to mortality during this stage as they must learn essential skills, such as efficient locomotion, proficient food location and predator avoidance. Knowledge of the PFDP would provide valuable information for conservation management of endangered species, many of which experience high juvenile fatality rates. Post-fledging movements of five endangered Cape Vultures were recorded using Global Positioning System/Global System for Mobile communication telemetry in South Africa. Home range sizes, distances travelled from the nest and habitat use were determined over 11 months during the PFDP. Fledglings increased their home range progressively for the first 2 months, then exhibited a rapid increase in home range size associated with dispersal from their natal colony. Maximum net daily distance also rapidly increased following the dispersal period. A preference for protected areas and woody vegetation (representing cliff faces used for roosting) in terms of habitat use for foraging was evident. The knowledge of the movement and habitat use of juvenile Cape Vultures can aid in the effective conservation planning for the species. Conservation programs in identified areas can be focused on power line and wind-farm mitigation, areas of supplementary feeding and anti-poisoning events.