|Date||30 Mar 2016|
Project implementation will optimize the habitat and breeding conditions for vulture populations at the territory of Ustyurt State Nature Reserve. To achieve this, 23 supplementary feeding sites will be established at the project area.
Creating of supplementary feeding sites for vultures and monitoring them at feeding sites with the use of viewing hides and camera traps will be carried out in April-October 2016. Twice a month, an offal and other animal by- products(from cows and camels) obtained from slaughter house in Zhanaozen will be supplied in the amount of not less than 10 kg at one site at a time. 2-3 camera traps will be mounted in vicinity to each feeding site at different distances and with different angles and will record the presence of vultures and other predators (terrestrial and birds) feeding on animal by-products. The analysis of numerous images will allow us to assess the number and species composition of birds gathering at feeding sites. Possibly due to age-related changes in plumage color, we will be able to assess age composition of vulture populations. In addition to camera traps, which will run on the feeding sites continuously, a viewing hide (a tent with camouflage pattern) will be built at each site for research and photography purposes. It will be placed as close as 20 m from deposited remains in order to avoid disturbing the vultures. To assess a vulture population’s status we are planning to conduct a vulture nest counting survey at the territory of the reserve in April-June 2016.
Usually, vultures nest at the chinks (a local name for chalk escarpment) that are relatively steep and inaccessible for humans and terrestrial predators. The nests are situated in rock crevices and at rocky lodges. The total length of the escarpment within the Ustyurt reserve is about 180 km. To date, we already know the locations of several vulture nests built in different years. We are planning to survey previous and the newly established vulture nest sites along the entire escarpment within the Usturt reserve. To count the nests we will use both a road count survey with an off-road vehicle (where possible) and walking routes along the base of the escarpment. Spotting scopes and binoculars will be used for observations of vultures and their nests. All detected nests will be mapped using GIS and monitored in subsequent years.
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