• June 24, 2018
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Endangered vulture faces threat in Oman

Young Egyptian vultures reared in northern areas migrate south to places like Oman

Fahad Al Mukrashi, Special to Gulf News
20:37 March 5, 2018
REG 180305 VULTURE

Muscat: The Environment Society of Oman (ESO) has said that a young Egyptian vulture it tagged has died of electrocution, which has become a major threat to endangered species.

“Of the four vultures tagged in previous years, two are known to have died, at least one by electrocution. All four of those birds were young birds, and young birds typically do not survive as well as adults. However, the electrocution of one of the birds indicates this threat, which is a major cause of mortality for many large birds (including endangered vultures and eagles) globally, is active in Oman,” the ESO said in a statement.

It added none of the four vultures tagged in previous years had migrated.

“This may have been because they were resident birds and would not migrate, or they may not have migrated because they were not mature. Young vultures reared in northern areas migrate south to places like Oman in their first year, then dwell there for some years before returning when they are older,” it explained.

Twelve of the vultures caught in 2018 are adults. “The eagles that we have tracked, on the other hand, have migrated to summering areas in Central Asia, and then back to winter in Arabia,” it said.

The tagging of the birds is part of an ESO programme launched in 2014. The organisation disclosed it had tagged 13 Egyptian vultures in January.

“As many as 13 endangered Egyptian vultures were successfully tagged in the Al Multaqah area of Oman in January 2018. This initiative was a collaboration between International Avian Research, led by Michael McGrady, the Bernd Meyburg Foundation for Raptor Research and Conservation, led by Bernd Meyburg, who also holds the positions of Deputy Chairman of the Advisory Group for Ornithology and Bird Protection and Chairman of Raptor Working Group of BirdLife Germany, and ESO.

“We aim to monitor the movements of scavenging and soaring raptors in Oman. Most vulture species and many species of eagle are in decline internationally, but recent research shows Oman to be a hotspot for them,” McGrady said.

The project aims to develop a greater understanding of the movements and migration of the birds and their habitats. The programme focuses on tagging vultures and eagles with tracking devices. Since 2014, 17 Egyptian vultures and three eagles have been tagged. ESO disclosed the tagged steppe eagles migrated to central Asia and Russia during the winter.

“Although, an International Multi-Species Action Plan has been developed to address the huge decline in vulture populations worldwide, Oman’s status calls for the drafting of species’ conservation plans, for both vultures and eagles, addressing research, conservation actions, threat assessment, education, community awareness, and stakeholder engagement,” it added.

The Environment Society of Oman was founded in March 2004 by Omanis representing different regions and many different professional backgrounds. The Society is the first of its kind in Oman and works to promote conservation and environmental awareness in all sectors of society.