Catching is a very important ecological process that plays an important role in circulating nutrients, stabilizing food webs, and minimizing the transmission of disease to humans and other species.
Vultures are one of the most important scavengers in the world. By feeding on rotting carrion, which can become a breeding ground for disease, and channeling them through a highly acidic digestive system that effectively eliminates pathogens, vultures play a fundamental ecological role.
Why vultures are indispensable
Rotting carcasses can become infested with bacteria and insects and become a breeding ground for disease. All over the world, vultures are well equipped to clean corpses efficiently.
By eating carrion, they remove carcasses and go through a highly acidic digestive system that wipes out pathogens. Some species specialize in peeling skin and skin, while others, which come last, swallow bones
Despite their important role in nature, vultures have been in trouble in recent decades. They are susceptible to toxins in the carrion they eat, whether it be lead ammunition, the drug diclofenac, or anti-predator venoms.
And because vultures produce relatively few chicks and take a relatively long time to reach maturity, they have a harder time recovering from population declines.
Continue reading: Scavengers leave ‘wonderfully shaped’ fossilized feces in fish skulls that have been dated to 9 million years ago
Vultures at risk due to increase in wild dogs
(Photo: LUIS ACOSTA/AFP via Getty Images)
Researchers used face-to-face interviews and time-lapse recordings from 2014 to 2019 to study the ecology of scavengers in six slaughterhouses in Ethiopia.
They saw a 73 percent reduction in critically endangered Madara vultures (Gyps rueppelli) and Koshijiro vultures (G. africanus) and critically endangered hooded vultures (Necrosyrtes monachus) over this period. We found a 15% reduction aloud Earth.com.
By the end of the 2019 survey period, vulture consumption had decreased by 20,000 kg per year due to the declining population. At the same time, the number of wild dogs being cleaned is steadily increasing, and researchers fear that this could lead to outbreaks of rabies.
Megan Murgatroyd, interim director of international programs at HawkWatch International, said in a report in science daily, “While we cannot say for sure whether the decline represents a population crash or whether the vultures are being chased away by dogs and moving away from the slaughterhouses, either way this is worrying.”
The team documented the types and frequencies of scavengers visiting the slaughterhouse buffets and used this to extrapolate how much they ate.
First, the vultures ate more than half of the undead at the landfill. White-backed vultures, Rüppell and capped vultures together eat about 250 kg of dead carcasses every day.
According to researchers, the increase in wild dogs appears to have occurred in India and Pakistan in the late 1990s when vulture populations collapsed and wild dog populations surged to prey on inedible carrion.
It can also increase the rate of rabies in humans. It is not yet clear if there is a similar link between Ethiopia’s increasing wild dog population and rabies, but Ethiopia already causes about 3,000 rabies deaths annually, most of which are children.
Related article: Vulture populations causing problems in settled areas of Brazil, new study shows
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