Original Research

Foraging range and habitat use by Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres from the Msikaba colony, Eastern Cape province, South Africa

Morgan B. Pfeiffer, Jan A. Venter, Colleen T. Downs
Koedoe | Vol 57, No 1 | a1240 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v57i1.1240 | © 2015 Morgan B. Pfeiffer, Jan A. Venter, Colleen T. Downs | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 July 2014 | Published: 18 May 2015

About the author(s)

Morgan B. Pfeiffer, School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Jan A. Venter, Department of Biodiversity Conservation, Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency, East London, South Africa; Centre for Wildlife Management, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Colleen T. Downs, School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


Despite the extent of subsistence farmland in Africa, little is known about endangered species that persist within them. The Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres) is regionally endangered in southern Africa and at least 20% of the population breeds in the subsistence farmland area previously known as the Transkei in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. To understand their movement ecology, adult Cape Vultures (n = 9) were captured and fitted with global positioning system/global system for mobile transmitters. Minimum convex polygons (MCPs),and 99% and 50% kernel density estimates (KDEs) were calculated for the breeding and non breeding seasons of the Cape Vulture. Land use maps were constructed for each 99% KDE and vulture locations were overlaid. During the non-breeding season, ranges were slightly larger(mean [± SE] MCP = 16 887 km2 ± 366 km2) than the breeding season (MCP = 14 707 km2 ± 2155 km2). Breeding and non-breeding season MCPs overlapped by a total of 92%. Kernel density estimates showed seasonal variability. During the breeding season, Cape Vultures used subsistence farmland, natural woodland and protected areas more than expected. In the non-breeding season, vultures used natural woodland and subsistence farmland more than expected, and protected areas less than expected. In both seasons, human-altered landscapes were used less, except for subsistence farmland.

Conservation implications: These results highlight the importance of subsistence farm land to the survival of the Cape Vulture. Efforts should be made to minimise potential threats to vultures in the core areas outlined, through outreach programmes and mitigation measures.The conservation buffer of 40 km around Cape Vulture breeding colonies should be increased to 50 km.


Gyps coprotheres, foraging range, land use, communal farmland, buffers, vulture


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Crossref Citations

1. Conservation buffer sizes derived from movement data of adult Cape vultures (Gyps coprotheres) in South Africa
Jan A Venter, Francis R Martens, Kerri Wolter
African Zoology  vol: 54  issue: 2  first page: 115  year: 2019  
doi: 10.1080/15627020.2019.1600428