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Gorongosa Vulture Tracking

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Read more about our Gorongosa Vulture Tracking Project at this link.

Vulture Names

  • Tumaine

    White-headed #88 (white)

    Our only White-headed Vulture in the tracking study (so far) was named by our Gorongosa intern, Diolinda!

    She chose the name Tumaine (pronounced too-mah-ee-nee).

    Interestingly, this name has a double meaning, depending on what language it is used in.
    In the Gorongosa local language of Sena, Tumaine means “send me”. Diolinda chose this name because we sent our vultures with transmitters out to clean the ecosystem and reduce diseases.
    In a local Swahili dialect, Tumaine also means “hope”. Hope to continue vulture conservation research in Gorongosa and to put on more vulture transmitters.

  • Sanguza

    White-backed #32 (red)

    Sanguza is Sena for “recycler”, relating to vultures being “pickers” of the environment, and an important part of the food web. Sena is a language of the Zambezi valley of Mozambique.

  • Cosenua

    White-backed #40 (orange)

    “Cose” means “face” in Sena (a language of the Zambezi valley of Mozambique), and “nua” means “naked” in Portuguese, referring to vultures’ specially adapted bald heads.

  • Zelador

    White-backed #43 (yellow)

    Visitors to Zoo Boise used their conservation tokens to vote for their favorite vulture name every time they visited the zoo this winter.

    They chose the name “Zelador (or Zelda for short) which means caretaker or custodian in Portuguese (the national language of Mozambique). This fitting name honors all the valuable ecosystem services that vultures provide by cleaning up carcasses in the environment.

  • KFC

    White-backed #36 (green)

    Although it may seem funny to name a vulture after a restaurant, the name highlights a unique discovery related to the ecology of vultures in Gorongosa: this vulture seems to have a particular interest in a chicken processing plant in the nearby town of Chimoio!

  • Wakathutangosa (Waka for short)

    The name Wakathutangosa is a compilation of languages and words meaning “The Cleaner of Gorongosa”.

    Waka is Changana (a Bantu language spoken in Southern Africa) meaning “from here”, “thutan” is Sena (a language of the Zambezi valley of Mozambique) for “cleaner”, and “Gosa” stands in for Gorongosa.

    White-backed #90  (blue)

  • Pukuta

    White-backed #39 (purple)

    This vulture is named Pukuta because in the local language of Sena it means “cleaner”. Vultures are an important part of the ecosystem, clearing away carcasses and preventing the spread of disease.

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Our project

Old World Vulture populations are in steep decline worldwide, mostly due to persecution by humans. Africa in particular has seen huge population declines due to poisoning. To learn more about this problem, watch this TED talk by our good friend Munir Virani and check out this BirdLife International article.

Infographic: Africa's vultures in declineInfograpic: The last African Vulture

In May 2016 our director, Greg, visited Gorongosa National Park with a team of raptor biologists. Their goal was to put transmitters on vultures in order to help us identify threats these birds are facing.

Greg and the team attach a transmitter

Greg (bottom R) and the team (Eric Hallingstad and Mark Bechard) fit a transmitter on one of the vultures. Photo by John Kelly of Boise State

Since a vulture can travel more than 200km in a single day, we need to determine where these birds spend their time, what threats they may be facing, and how much time they spend inside vs. outside the park.

IBO's 2016 Gorongosa intern, Diolinda, releases a White-backed Vulture. Photo by John Kelly

IBO’s 2016 Gorongosa intern, Diolinda, releases a White-backed Vulture. Photo by John Kelly

See more great photos from the project at this link.

Currently Tracking

We are currently tracking 7 vultures from Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique! Six are White-backed Vultures (gyps africanus) and one is a White-headed Vulture (Trigonoceps occipitalis). White-backed and White-headed Vultures are both listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

Carefully measuring the culmen of White-headed Vulture 88. Photo by John Kelly

Carefully measuring the culmen of White-headed Vulture 88. Photo by John Kelly

Thanks to Autumn-Lynn Harrison from the Migratory Connectivity Project for her help with the code for this map!