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An effect of vegetation structure on carcass exploitation by vultures in an African savanna

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Carcass utilisation by vultures may be constrained by the surrounding vegetation, as high vegetation densities may leave insufficient space for the vultures to take-off. We tested this by placing carcasses at 14 sites differing in density and height of the surrounding vegetation. African White-backed Vultures Gyps africanus were reluctant to land at carcasses from which the angle required to clear the surrounding vegetation on take-off was greater than 6°, and Cape Vultures Gyps coprotheres were not observed on carcasses from which the required angle of take-off was greater than 4°. Increasing vegetation densities due to bush encroachment may therefore affect the two species to different extents.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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