Patagial Tags and Satellite Tracking
Follow our tagged and tracked vultures with us as they travel around southern Africa. This information is vital to our research and understanding of vultures’ foraging ranges and habits, it also allows us to pick up when a vulture is no longer moving and potentially injured or dead.
In this section we explain the importance of the tags, the information or history that is recorded using them and why GPS satellite tracking is so important.
Vultures throughout southern Africa have been monitored for decades with the use of coloured leg bands, SAFRING metal rings or patagial (wing) tags. Vultures were wild captured for research purposes and fitted with one or two of these marking methods; others were ringed as chicks on the cliffs while some have been tagged when rehabilitated prior to their release. Chicks bred in captivity for population supplementation are also tagged prior to release.
The latest tags are brightly coloured and longer lasting than their predecessors. They can also be easily read from above and below, making it easy to identify a tagged vulture flying.
The tag numbers are also kept recorded in a database with all the information relevant to the that tag number, in the case of a captive bred youngster, we then know who the parents are, sex, date hatched, fledged, released etc. In the case of a rehabilitated vulture the tag number is linked to where, how and why the vulture was rescued, what type of injuries it had, rehabilitation and release history.
All of these methods are for conservation purposes, where conservationists, scientists, ornithologists, biologists and the general public can learn as much as possible about vultures in order to identify threats and protect them.
What to record
- Tag number and colours
- Species (if known)
- Name of locality
- Co-ordinates of locality
- Landowner name and contact details
- Your name and contact details
- Bird behaviour and condition
- Total number of birds present
- Additional notes
- Photograph of tagged individuals if possible
VulPro tries to fit each captive bred vulture with a satellite tracking device. These send regular updates to VulPro, and we download the information once a day. This means that we can follow where the vultures go, what speed and height they fly at, the air temperature and how long they spend in a place as well as if they are still alive. This allows us to map and record how far vultures can travel in their foraging ranges and what their habits are. The satellite tracking has also helped us to identify a vulture that has died. Thanks to this a whole group of poisoned dead vultures were found alerting conservationists to the catastrophe of their deaths.
We invite YOU to participate in these conservation efforts by reporting any parked sightings of any vultures to VulPro at kerri@Vulpro.com. This information is vital to the conservation of vulltures, you never know you may have sighted a vulture from Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana or even a captive bred or rehabilitated vulture from VulPro.