A two-year project, repeating a famous bird survey by driving more than 12,500 miles across Botswana, has confirmed researchers' worst fears: many birds of prey are fast disappearing from one of Africa's last great wilderness areas
Reported sightings of several iconic species of eagle and vulture declined by as much as 80 per cent when compared with the previous survey, while some migrant species recorded last time have vanished, according to the study published this week in the international scientific journal Biological Conservation.
The data is based on a return trip to a network of roads criss-crossing most of northern Botswana, an area first surveyed over 20 years ago by a former Wildlife Biologist with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Botswana, Dr Marc Herremans. Driving at similar speeds and using a similar vehicle, researchers retraced Herremans's route across gravel and tar roads. Bird of prey were initially spotted with the naked eye, before optics were used to positively identify the species involved, as in the original survey.