The mystery of the gradual disappearance of the Bearded Vulture, one of Africa's most famous birds, has been solved using the technology of satellite tracking.
Once widespread throughout much of Southern Africa, the Bearded Vulture is now critically endangered, with a decline in nesting sites of nearly 50 per cent since the 1960s.
The remaining population is now restricted to the Drakensberg mountains in Lesotho and South Africa. But even in these isolated mountains they continue to decline.
Satellite trackers attached to 18 Bearded Vultures have confirmed conservationists' worst fears: humans are largely to blame with collisions with power lines and poisoning being the two major vulture hazards that killed half of the birds in the satellite tracking survey.
These are key findings contained in two new research projects published this month. The studies paint the most detailed picture to date of the challenges facing the Bearded Vulture, also known as the 'bone breaker' due to its habit of dropping bones from a height to feed from the marrow inside.