Declining Augur Buzzard Populations Found in Areas With Increasing Human Development

01 June 2021

Though the IUCN defines Augur Buzzards as a species of Least Concern, a recent study shows a loss of nearly half of Augur Buzzard territories in two decades. The Peregrine Fund has been studying these iconic raptors since 1995 in order to see if urbanization has affected Augur Buzzard populations. Our very own Dr. Evan Buechley has collaborated with the Peregrine Fund on this project since 2010. He conducted field surveys in Kenya and then continued to assist with the manuscript in the years following. This multi-decade-long study has culminated in their paper, “Declines in an Augur Buzzard Buteo augur Populations in a Region of Increasing Human Development,” which has been published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 

The study shows a 15 percent increase in the area’s human development footprint from 1995 to 2014. Over this same time period, there was a staggering 47 percent decrease in the number of occupied buzzard territories. This suggests that humans may have a larger impact on these birds than previously thought.

Despite this noticeable decrease in occupied buzzard territories, the study did not find a direct link between an increase in human development and the decrease of occupied Augur Buzzard territories. The data did discover buzzard decreases in urban areas, but also showed decreases in environmentally protected areas, such as Hell’s Gate National Park. What this tells us is that there are likely other issues outside of human development affecting the raptor’s population.

What can be drawn from this study is that Augur Buzzards need more attention and continued research to get to the bottom of why their populations are declining. Preventative measures should be taken before these birds become Endangered.

The threats to Augur Buzzards are shared by many bird species trying to coexist with human development. Learning more about Augur Buzzards can help inform policy and actions to prevent this decline from continuing. 

If you want to learn more about this study you can view the full publication here: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fevo.2021.590073/full

You can also check out the Peregrine Fund’s press release here: https://www.peregrinefund.org/news-release/auger-buzzard-news-release

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