Captive large predators killing vultures: exposing captive facilities as an additional source of mortality to highly threatened birds
Keywords:captive big cats, Gyps africanus, Hooded Vulture, Necrosyrtes monachus, Panthera, threat, vulture, White-backed Vulture
Background and objective: African vultures are under pressure from various, well-known anthropogenic threats. Here we describe and aim to highlight a littleknown source of mortality to two Critically Endangered vulture species (Gyps africanus
and Necrosyrtes monachus), as well as the Endangered Cape Vulture (Gyps copropheres) in southern Africa – that of captive big cats killing vultures that land in their enclosures to feed on food scraps or faeces or to bathe in drinking water.
Methods: Personal observations, reports from public, interviews with current and former staff from predator parks and lion hunting ranches.
Discussion: While the spatial and numerical extent of this mortality has not yet been quantified, if it is found to be widespread then failure to address it may present a risk to the regions’ vulture populations.
Conclusion: We encourage captive breeding facilities and regulatory authorities to take appropriate action to prevent free-roaming vultures from coming into contact with captive big cats, and we highlight the need for further research to
determine the spatial extent and magnitude of this threat to African vultures.
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