Studying the links between Mobile Pastoralism and Vultures
Mobile pastoralism is the most sustainable livestock management system for people and nature. For thousands of years, mobile pastoralists have been moving through the rangelands with their herds, acknowledging their constant interaction and symbiosis with nature. Interaction between transhumant shepherds in Spain and vultures is a good example of this mutualism which benefits both parties.
Spain is home to more than 90% of European Vultures. Among others, one reason for this high figure is the presence of extensive livestock management systems, including transhumance. Transhumance ensures vulture populations with an availability of safe food (safer than most vulture feeding sites) and although unpredictable regarding time and place, they also help maintain suitable habitats for vultures to scavenge wild prey. In return vultures clean up carcasses and other organic waste preventing the spread of diseases and helping curb greenhouse gas emissions generated by artificial carcass collection and transportation to processing plants. Vultures also help prevent the increase of predator populations (such as feral dogs) by reducing the amount of carrion available in the field.
In order to gain a scientific understanding of the beneficial role transhumance has on vulture species, Roads Less Travelled – in collaboration with Miguel Hernández University and Sergio Couto – are researching the spatial analyses of foraging and movement patterns of aproximately 60 Griffon vulture individuals tagged with GPS trackers in various regions of Spain where transhumance occurs.
Sergio Couto is a Spanish biologist whose work has focused on multidisciplinary, participatory and innovative approaches on biodiversity conservation and governance. Among other institutions, he has worked for the Pyrenean Institute of Ecology (CSIC), the European Commission, and NGOs as the Gypaetus Foundation and SEO/BirdLife. As an independent consultant, he has worked on wildlife management and inventory for several Spanish Environmental Ministry Regional Governments, NPAs and for the private sector. He is member of the Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy of the IUCN and ICCA Consortium Regional Coordinator for South and West Europe.
Resources and Presentations
Transhumance and Vultures
Mobile pastoralism is the most sustainable livestock management system for people and nature. For thousands of years, mobile pastoralists have been moving through the rangelands with their herds, acknowledging their constant interaction and symbiosis with nature....