‘Vulnerable’: Satellites to track Secretary birds

2012-07-04 00:00

SATELLITE tracking will be used by conservation authorities in their bid to ensure the survival of Secretary Birds, which are described by Birdlife South Africa (BSA) as one of the country’s “most charismatic raptors”.

The Secretary Bird was recently upgraded on the international Red Data list to “vulnerable” as it is threatened by a number of factors throughout its range, the organisation said in a statement yesterday.

BSA, the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Bird of Prey Programme (EWT-BoPP) and the University of the Witwatersrand have joined forces to launch the satellite tracking project.

EWT-BoPP manager Andre Botha said the project would help determine why the Secretary Bird was no longer doing well in the grasslands and other habitats in South Africa, make better-informed decisions on conservation action to benefit the species and hopefully, halt its decline.

Ernest Retief, BSA’s regional conservation manager for Gauteng and North West, said the first tracking device was fitted to a Secretary Bird fledgling named Spyker on the farm Garingboom near Springfontein in the Free State on March 22. The devices are to be fitted to eight- or nine-week old fledglings and should last two-and-a-half years if the birds survive to adulthood.

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