First Vulture Fitted with GPS Tracker

17 Oct 2017

Harry has been fitted with a global positioning system (GPS) tracking device. Who is Harry? He’s a griffon vulture that scientists from both the Gibraltar Ornithological Natural History Society (GONHS) Raptor Unit and the Department of the Environment attached a tracking device to in order to obtain useful data regarding his movement during the migration this year.

The launch of the project coincides with World Environment Day with this year aiming to associate people with nature.

Scientist and researchers most observe the Griffon vultures in the springtime in Gibraltar. During the migration period, the size of the Griffon vultures and the uproar their resident Yellow-legged Gulls created were the local highlights.

Vulture track is the name of the project with the goal of gathering useful information on Africa’s migrating Griffon vultures, their foraging patterns, and their movements in their Europe breeding grounds.

Harry was the first vulture that scientists fit with a solar-powered GPS device. The scientists released him successfully from the top of the Rock and he immediately set off on his onward journey.

Scientists also fitted Harry with a unique wing-tag to help identify him in the field. Resident gulls had taken the vulture down and GONHS Raptor Unit experts cared for him.

Not only will the project gain valuable research information that’s useful in environmental education and conversation, but also can help raise awareness of how important it is to protect birds of prey, including those threatened in Europe.

The project is the latest of a few projects with the goal of connecting people with nature. These projects include live swift nest cameras and a live underwater camera that people can access in the Thinking Green.

New technologies have been developed during the past 35 years to allow for tracking and studying free-ranging animals. The advancement in technology helps to increase the opportunity to incorporate biotelemetry and tracking to study ecology and animal behavior.

Biologists are able to attach GPS tracking technology to animals to obtain accurate locations they can combine with sensor data to study animal ecology and behavior. Scientists can integrate GPS can into functional systems with power supplies, data transfer, data storage, sensor technologies, and packaging to collect activity, temperature, mortality, and proximity data from different birds and other species.

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