Vulture tagging is an important conservation effort that endeavours to implement effective research, education, protection, conservation and recovery operations to prevent further decline of the vulture populations in Zambia and Africa at large. Tagging and tracking of vultures is a vital way of obtaining information on movements, habitat range and distance travelled by vultures. It also helps in understanding the routes these birds take, the areas they forage in, their roosting spots and also their survival rate.
Since August 2017, a combined team from DNPW, BWZ, EWT and private farm owners have tagged Vultures and fitted them with wing tags, rings and some with GSM tracking units. The wing tags used are bright green in colour bearing visible codes with a combination of a letter and numbers with coding ranging from Z027 to Z030 in the first session. A follow-up effort was undertaken in August 2018, within Chisamba IBA, during which an additional 9 vultures; Z001 to Z009 were tagged and 4 were fitted with tracking units. The team has continued the tagging post the breeding season and in August 2019, an additional 12 Vultures; Z010 to Z021 were tagged, 11 White-backed Vultures and 1 Hooded Vulture(juvenile).
To date, there are three projects that tag and track vultures in Zambia. The Zambian Vulture Conservation Program (ZVCP), a joint project between the Caring For Conservation Fund, BirdWatch Zambia and the Endangered Wildlife Trust, was started in 2021 and has so far tagged 29 birds in Luambe NP, Liuwa Plain NP, Kasanka NP and Bangweulu Wetlands. North Carolina Zoo (NCZ), in partnership with Panthera, focus on the Kafue system and have tagged 17 birds since 2021. In 2022, a project between BioCarbon Partners (BCP) and BirdWatch Zambia (BWZ) has tagged 3 birds in Munyamadzi Game Reserve in the southern Luangwa Valley.
During capture sessions, the team has been able to spot a few tagged vultures including Z008, Z001, Z013, Z018 and Z015. Other re-sightings have been recorded when the public report sightings and are included to a database that is continuously being updated. When the public reports sightings, this ring allows us to track vulture movements and update our current data on vulture movements. The more information we are able to accrue, the better equipped we will be able to understand the status of our vulture populations and improve our monitoring of this critically important species.
We are very grateful to Dr Ralph Buij (Wageningen University – Netherlands) and the Maxplanck Institute who donated GSM units and wildlife computers (US) who provided the satellite units. Special gratitude also goes to the Raptor Research Foundation – Leslie Brown Foundation, Hawk Conservancy Trust, Endangered Wildlife Trust, Africa Bird Club and the Isdell Family Foundation for the additional support rendered to sustain these activities.
How to Report Vulture Sighting
To report the sighting please make note of the location and time of the sighting, tag number and colour, and species, as well as any information on the behaviour of the bird and send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org. The identification tags and rings allow us to track vulture movements when the public reports sightings. In addition to this, some vultures are fitted with high-tech GPS backpacks in order to gather more detailed data about their movement patterns. Photographs are also welcome and any additional information is welcome. We look forward to more information on movements and re-sighting of these well-toured birds!!!