John Kelly, manager of photographic services, is on assignment at Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, Africa, with the Boise State vulture research team and Idaho Bird Observatory.
The team consists of Greg Kaltenecker, Marc Bechard, Eric Hallingstad and Gorongosa intern Diolinda Mundoza. They are accompanied by a National Geographic film crew while in the park.
Kaltenecker, executive director of the Intermountain Bird Observatory, is leading a team of raptor biologists to trap vultures in Gorongosa National Park. Of the five vulture species found in Gorongosa, four are listed on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List as endangered or critically endangered.
Although the park is relatively well protected, vultures can travel more than 100 miles in a single day, meaning they are likely exposed to many dangers if and when they leave the park boundaries. By trapping vultures and attaching GPS transmitters, researchers will learn where Gorongosa’s vultures spend their time and what threats they face.
This research is part of the Gorongosa Restoration Project. The park once contained the largest density of wildlife on the continent of Africa. However, during a generation of civil conflict from the 1960s to the 1990s, soldiers and professional hunters killed more than 95 percent of the park’s large species, both carnivores and herbivores.
In 2008, the Carr Foundation launched a $40 million multidisciplinary restoration effort to train and hire a new ranger force, reintroduce wildlife populations, create a science research laboratory, restart tourism, and assist local communities near the park with health care, education, improved farming and employment opportunities in Gorongosa.
This current research also is being supported by funding from the McDanel Land Foundation, which has supported the Intermountain Bird Observatory’s curlew research.
More images, including new ones captured by Kelly throughout the week, can be found at Photoshelter: http://boisestateuniversity.photoshelter.com/portfolio/G0000wzJVu3G4ff8