African raptor populations are collapsing: scientists warn

Juggling Falcon

A new study conducted in collaboration with researchers at School of Biology from the University of St. Andrews and from Peregrine Fundpublished in the journal Ecology and evolution of naturespear important alarm for the future of African savanna predators: almost 90% of the 42 species studied are in decline and these results suggest that more than two-thirds of these species may now be considered globally endangered.

Supervised study Phil Shaw from the University of St. Andrews and from Darcy Ogada of Peregrine Fundused data collected from monitoring carried out in four different African regions for time intervals from 20s and 40s.

So the results offer a broad vision comprehensive and long-term unprecedented patterns of change in the number of species of birds of prey living in Africa. However, the report reveals that they are above it all larger species above all, they suffered the most significant declines compared to the smaller ones in unprotected areas, where birds are most threatened by human activity and poaching. Overall, in fact, predators outside national parks are has more than doubled than those living on reservations and other protected areas. The result: many species that are declining today have become much more dependent on protected areas over the years.

Dark singing hawk

The authors of the study warn that if the current threats to African raptors are not effectively addressed, the large and charismatic species of eagles and vultures they are unlikely to survive into the second half of this century in most unprotected areas of the continent. In fact, the study also highlights a sharp decline among birds of prey that are currently classified as a “Minimum Risk (LC)” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Among them are some iconic African endemics such as Wahlberg’s EagleAfrican eagle, crested eagle or dark singing hawk.

All of these species considered non-threatened have suffered such a decline in numbers that they can now be considered threatened. However, numerous other species of predators became known and widespread over time increasingly rare or completely absent outside the protected areas of Africa. They even include some of Africa’s most powerful iconic species, such as the fighting eagle and the juggling falcon. Phil Shaw commented: “Since the 1970s, vast areas of forest and savannah have been converted to farmland, while many other threats to Africa’s raptors have increased. WITH doubling the human population The need to expand Africa’s network of protected areas and mitigate anthropogenic pressures is expected to be more urgent now than ever over the next 35 years.”

Another lead author of the study, Darcy Ogada, added: «Africa is at a crossroads about protecting their beautiful predators. In many areas we have seen these species almost disappear. One of the most famous African predators, snake house, is now on the verge of extinction. There is no single threat that puts all these birds at risk, but a combination of many factors that depend on human activities. In other words, we see countless deaths from a thousand different reasons.”

Rüppell’s griffon vulture

For Ian Newtona world-renowned ornithologist not involved in the study, «this is an important article that draws attention to massive decline in birds of prey has occurred in much of Africa over the past few decades. This was a continent where, just 50 years ago, huge populations of magnificent raptors were almost everywhere, inspiring awe and wonder to visitors and tourists from all over the world. We hope that more research can be done, and more importantly, that these birds can be protected on increasingly large areasmeasures that necessarily depend on the education and goodwill of the local population.”

Predators of all sizes now live increasingly complex lives in Africa, where habitats, food sources and nesting sites are suitable have decreased drastically as a result of direct persecution, poaching and conflicts with human activity. Other no less important threats are indirect poisonings, aimed mainly at large mammals, electrocution and power line collisions and wind turbines and overhunting, both for human food and for the use of animal parts for medicine and traditional rituals.

Fighting eagle

The results of this important study therefore highlight need to strengthen protection habitats in Africa, in line with the objective of the Convention on Biological Diversity COP15which stipulated that protected areas should be expanded to cover at least 30% of the land by 2030. But they also demonstrate urgency restore natural habitats reduce the impact of energy infrastructure in unprotected areas and improve species protection legislation by introducing long-term monitoring of the conservation status of African raptors.

Ultimately, there is an urgent need to involve as many stakeholders and the local population as possible in conservation efforts to protect eagles, hawks, vultures and other majestic African predators. It is for this reason that the authors of the study set out grant for the management of African raptors support other research and conservation programs, an important opportunity for young African scientists. Launched in 2023, this initiative saw the first scholarship awarded Joan Bandastudent AP Leventis Ornithological Research Institutein Nigeria, who will now study the threats facing owls and other African nocturnal predators.

Leave a Comment