Land Use effects on Vulture foraging

Land-Use Effect on the Foraging and Feeding of Eurasian Griffon Vultures (Gyps fulvus) in Northern Israel
Lia Court, Ido Izhaki1, Yohay Carmel and Ofer Bahat2
1Department of Biology, Haifa University, Israel.
2Raptor Conservation Project, SPNI and INPA, Israel.

Human activities frequently reduce wildlife food availability that may cause population decline and species extinction. Endangered species Management regimes often provide supplements when food availability or quality is a major limiting factor. This activity requires comprehensive understanding of foraging and feeding patterns. The population of the locally endangered Griffon vultureĀ (Gyps fulvus) in Israel has declined significantly in recent decades, due to persecution and reduced habitats. Griffon vultures are obligatory scavengers, and feed mainly on carcasses of cattle and large wild ungulates. Extremely low nesting success rate of Griffon vultures has been observed in the Golan area (60-70% pre-fledged chicks’ mortality) .Major causes for this phenomenon were found to be artifacts in food brought to nestlings and Calcium deficiency. Management activities treat this situation by adding crushed bones in the carcasses vicinity. In Order to identify the effect of land-use and selected environmental factors on foraging and feeding patterns of Griffon vultures, we characterize and quantify feeding sites in the Golan area. Data are analyzed by GIS and Statistical tests. We present a model for predicting the temporal and spatial food exploitation patterns by vultures. Practical tool for food quality control will be devised based on that model, in order to optimize conservation policy of Griffon Vultures, and also can be used to predict impact of development, such as settlements and tourism, on vulture population in Israel.