A tale of two vultures
Corinne Kendall— 27 January 2010 — in East Africa Project Share
When people ask you to describe another species, say a vulture or a hippo or an ostrich, they expect one answer for the whole species. What do vultures—as if every vulture were exactly the same—do? But as anyone who owns a dog can tell you, just like people, there are huge differences between individuals. Perhaps animals have personalities too.
When I look at the movement of the vultures, I am usually looking for trends—one answer to describe what an entire species does. But even with only a few individuals, there can be huge differences. Take Roger for example, he is a Ruppell's Vulture. Last week, he darted all the way from Amboseli National Park to Shompole Conservancy in Southern Kenya. First of all, this seems odd behavior. Neither Amboseli or Shompole are known for their lush wildlife at least not compared to Serengeti and Masai Mara. So it seems odd that a scavenging bird would spend so much time outside of the areas of dense wildlife. Even stranger are the differences between Roger and Rara, another Ruppell's Vulture. While Roger travelled nearly 100 miles this week, dashing between the parks, Rara sat in the same spot all week long. She moved perhaps 20 miles for the whole week, hanging out just outside of Ngorogoro Crater. How can a bird designed for such efficient long distance flight (vultures are perhaps the most efficient soaring birds in the world) just stay in the same place all week? The food there must be great.
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