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Gobabeb Research & Training Centre

Annual ringing and tagging of the Lappet-faced Vulture population

On Saturday, October 17th, two Gobabeb staff participated in the annual ringing and tagging of the Lappet-faced Vulture population (a near-endangered species) in the Namib-Naukluft Park.

Before sunrise they headed east from Gobabeb, further inland towards Ganab, to meet up with members from Vultures Namibia, the organization responsible for holding the event. The participants were divided into two groups, heading in opposite directions to look at the different vulture nests previously put on GPS via aerial surveys.

Once the group arrived at a nest a GoPro was put on a long steel rod which was then raised up to peer into the nest in search of any chicks. Linked with a tablet via Bluetooth connection, they could then see if there was a vulture chick in the nest or not. If a chick was present the ladder was brought out and—with some extra man-power—put upright against the tree to climb up and fetch the chick out of the nest. Then the chick was placed gently into a bag and carefully carried back to the truck where measurements were taken of its wing length, tail length, and weight. It was then tagged on both wings with a yellow tag and on one leg with a steel ring for future identification purposes. After this the chick was finally brought back into its nest where it could wait for parents to return (undoubtedly shocked by the new accessories on their baby!) and the Vultures Namibia / Gobabeb team headed off to the next nest.

During the day a number of vulture chicks, around 13 or so, were ringed, tagged, and recorded. The last nest of the day held a special surprise and reward for the group: twins (a quite rare and exciting occurrence according to Holger, the expert of the group)!

Overall it was a fantastic day; meeting people from different backgrounds, learning about different recording techniques and an amazing avian species, and taking part in the important conservation of Vultures.



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