Secretarybird movement patterns tracked for conservation

The movement patterns of a young secretarybird called Taemane in South Africa, have been tracked for more than two years by Birdlife South Africa as part of a research project to better understand the movement patterns and habitats used by these birds, as well as threats to their survival.

Secretarybird

Copyright: Birdlife South Africa

Taemane was about 49 days old when he was first fitted with a satellite tracking device in the Free State. Since the tracking device was fitted to Taemane, more than 9 000 location points, each accurate to within 10 meters, have been obtained. 

Secretarybirds, which occur in Africa, are listed on the IUCN’s Red List as “vulnerable” to extinction. The IUCN Red List assesses the conservation status of species on a global scale to highlight taxa threatened with extinction, to help promote their conservation. Habitat loss, degradation of habitat (such as excessive burning of grasslands and intensive livestock grazing), disturbances by humans and poisoning of waterholes are among the threats which these birds face. 

Taemane Birdlife South Africa

Taemane’s flight patterns in South Africa, recorded using satellite tracking. Image: Birdlife South Africa

Even though the project is still in the data collection phase, valuable discoveries have already been made. The data show that most of the immature birds moved long distances from their nest site and then returned to their natal areas a few months later.  The research aims to help inform conservation efforts of the Secretarybird.

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