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25 February 2019 Status of the Taita Falcon (Falco fasciinucha) and Other Cliff-Nesting Raptors in Batoka Gorge, Zimbabwe
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Abstract

The Taita Falcon (Falco fasciinucha) is a globally vulnerable cliff-nesting, bird-eating raptor, sparsely distributed down the eastern side of sub-Saharan Africa. It seems to occur in small, isolated pockets of a few breeding pairs, clustered around localized patches of ideal habitat. One such pocket has been the Batoka Gorge system on the Zambezi River, immediately downstream of Victoria Falls on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia. The species was first recorded here in the late 1950s, and subsequent observations over the next 40–50 yr established Batoka Gorge as an important location for this species worldwide. Regular and intensive surveys in the early to mid-1990s identified at least six breeding territories in the first 40 km of the gorge, and a strong likelihood of more pairs farther downstream. We surveyed this same section of the gorge in July 2013 and November 2014, accumulating >100 hr of observation time at previously occupied Taita Falcon sites. This was the first systematic search of the area for Taita Falcons in nearly two decades. Although we found similar numbers of cliff-nesting Peregrine Falcons (F. peregrinus) and Verreaux's Eagles (Aquila verreauxii) as in the earlier surveys, we did not record any Taita Falcons in the area. The reasons for this decline in numbers and the implications of this finding for the conservation status of this little-known species remain speculative.

© 2019 The Raptor Research Foundation, Inc.
Andrew R. Jenkins, Anthony J. Van Zyl, Innocent Magunje, Fadzai Matsvimbo, Lucia Rodrigues, Lance Robinson, Lovelater Sebele, Darryl Tiran, and Hanneline Smit-Robinson "Status of the Taita Falcon (Falco fasciinucha) and Other Cliff-Nesting Raptors in Batoka Gorge, Zimbabwe," Journal of Raptor Research 53(1), (25 February 2019). https://doi.org/10.3356/JRR-18-36
Received: 23 April 2018; Accepted: 21 August 2018; Published: 25 February 2019
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