Assamo, the Egyptian vulture we fitted with a satellite transmitter in March, continues to provide information. During the past two weeks he has spent his time in southern Djibouti. Over the course of the tracking Assamo’s behavior has been variable, highlighting the importance of flexibility for a scavenging bird, particularly in a desert environment. So, we have seen how Assamo apparently makes use of ephemeral settlements, moving from one to the next. We have seen him commute to what seems to be a reliable food source at the town of ‘Ali Sabieh. We have also seen him move over relatively large distances between north and south Djibouti.
During the first half of June 2013 Assamo has spent a lot of his time perched on electricity pylons. Have a look at the two images below and you can see the pylons on which Assamo roosted (Hint: If you click on the image, it will open up larger in a new window). This highlights a problem that vultures and other birds face: Electrocution. Electrocution can be a significant cause of mortality, especially for large soaring birds. Some pylons designs are more dangerous than others and most of the ones we saw in Djibouti seem to be relatively benign. Indeed, the pylons in these images appear to be large enough so that electrocution is unlikely.
Here is a link to a report from Bulgaria about an Egyptian vulture electrocuted there, and here is one thing the Bulgarian Society for Protection of Birds is doing about it. Still, if you want to read more about this problem, try to dig out this reference:
Angelov, I., Hashim, I., and Oppel, S. 2012. Persistent electrocution mortality of Egyptian vultures Neophron percnopterus over 28 years in East Africa. Bird Conservation International 1-6.
You might also want to visit the blog that is dedicated to Assamo’s movements, where you will find out a little more about him.