At the beginning of 2021, we announced the winners of our inaugural Global Raptor Research and Conservation Grant. This grant aimed to fund projects addressing global raptor research and conservation priorities. We set out to invest in projects led by citizens of the Global South, with the aim of increasing diversity and inclusivity, all while building local capacity for conservation. Thanks to the support of our donors and a gift from the Circle of Life Fund, we were able to fund three amazing scientists this year. Our first quarter has now come to a close and our grant recipients have sent us updates on their projects thus far. Keep reading to find out more about their work these past three months...
Veronica Dandzo-Adzagudu: “Population assessment and conservation of the Critically Endangered Ruppell’s Vulture in Mole National Park and fringe communities, Ghana”
Photograph of a Hooded vulture by Veronica Dandzo-Adzagudu
Veronica and her project team successfully established contact with the Mole National Park management to collaborate on vulture research and conservation in the park. Veronica conducted a one-week field survey in the park where she used vulture observation points, including areas around water bodies and refuse dumps, within the southern sector of the park. During this time four species of vultures were spotted, three of which are Critically Endangered species (Hooded, White-backed, and White-headed vultures), as well as the less threatened but little-studied Palm-nut vulture. Unfortunately, no Ruppell’s vulture was seen while surveying. During this week in the field, the team also encountered a poaching incident. A waterbuck’s (a species of antelope) skin was found after the crew noticed vultures heading the same direction and circling its location. Their local assistant confirmed this was a poaching incident and that the skin was removed, likely to lighten the load when carrying the animal out of the park. Veronica and her crew look forward to increasing their field surveys in the coming months.
Himani Singh Khati: “Conservation of Critically Endangered Red-headed Vultures in Uttarakhand, India.”
Photograph of a Red-headed Vulture taken by Khima Balodi, one of Himani’s field crewmembers.
Himani began her quarter with a preliminary field reconnaissance survey and initial monitoring at two of the different elevation zones in Uttarakhand, India: the Lowland and the Highland. The regions were monitored from mid-March until the start of April as the second wave of COVID-19 restrictions limited fieldwork after that date. During this surveying, Himani and her team spotted a Red-headed vulture at an elevation of 1600m of the Highland region. They also saw evidence of roosting and nesting sites near community areas and an abundance of livestock populations in the region, indicative of good vulture habitat. These provide two interesting areas of study as well as potential directions to focus conservation and education efforts. Due to ongoing restrictions and the upcoming monsoon season, Himani is shifting for the months of June and July to focus on creating educational workshops and programs that will spread awareness on vulture conservation. She hopes to debut this program on International Vulture Day, the first Saturday in September.
Ana María Morales Cañizares: “Monitoring the Diet of the Black-and-chestnut Eagle (Spizaetus isidori) in western Antioquia, Colombia”
Draft of educational poster made by Ana María Morales Cañizares
Ana has found a Black-and-chestnut eagle nest where there has been a lot of eagle activity, however, no laying has yet occurred. Ana hopes to install cameras at the nest this year. Unfortunately, Colombia is in the midst of a national strike that has seen roadblocks, travel issues, and insecurity, as well as continued instability due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This has led to increased restrictions on land travel, preventing Ana from doing extensive fieldwork. Ana adjusted to these difficult circumstances by collaborating with a group of young birders called Pajareritos to work on developing educational materials, which will be presented in communities around known nests later this year. Simultaneously, Ana and Pajareritos have been monitoring a juvenile eagle in the area to understand its habits.