inlumi is proud to be sponsoring Mossy Earth’s Lesser Kestrel GPS tagging project. This project involves tracking the migration patterns of a unique species which has been facing a dramatic population decline. In July, the team has already tagged two juvenile birds, one of which is named Lumi, after inlumi.
In May, inlumi team members already had the privilege of seeing the Lesser Kestrels in Andalucía, as part of our team building event in Malaga. We received a tour from Mossy Earth and the team carrying out the project, and saw the birds’ natural habitat.
The Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni) is a small falcon that historically, was one of the most abundant birds of prey in Europe. The latter half of the 20th century saw the bird fall from grace as their numbers dramatically declined. Over the last 30 years, there’s been a huge effort to conserve the species in Europe and now populations are recovering. Still, there is a lack of data, especially on the high rate of juvenile mortalities, which is why Mossy Earth is funding the GPS tagging of juvenile Lesser Kestrels.
Lesser Kestrels are a migratory species, breeding over a large range covering the Western Palearctic south and wintering in Africa. The largest congregations of wintering Lesser Kestrels have been discovered in Senegal, Mauritania, West Mali and Niger. They migrate in small or loose flocks at around 2,000m above sea level.
In Europe, their habitat includes lowland areas with steppe-like grasslands and farmland where there are open areas for them to hunt.
Current populations are estimated at less than 100,000 breeding couples globally, with 30,500 to 38,000 in Europe. Of this European population, 10% are thought to be in Spain.
The threats & why they need help
The loss of habitat in its Western Palearctic breeding grounds is what drove the Lesser Kestrel’s dramatic decline last century. This was mostly attributed to the growth in agricultural land, but also afforestation of low-productive farmland with wood plantations, land abandonment and urbanisation. All of these factors have reduced their natural hunting grounds. The story is similar at migratory sites in South Africa where grasslands were replaced with farmlands.
Further to this, kestrels lose nesting sites in places such as old buildings, when they are neglected or restored. This leads to the birds seeking alternative nesting sites which aren’t safe from predators. It also puts them at greater risk of extreme temperatures and their chicks falling out of nests. High rates of chick mortality that have been recorded during unusually hot weather is another concern amidst rising global temperatures. Threats could also include pesticide or rodent poisoning.
Although the Lesser Kestrel’s status is ‘Least Concern’, the high rate of juvenile mortality and lack of data on why this is happening has raised concern amongst conservationists. This is why Mossy Earth is dedicating their efforts to gaining a better understanding and safeguard the species’ populations.
With support from inlumi, Mossy Earth is funding the GSP tagging of 4 juvenile birds to be released in the Fuente de Piedra Nature Reserve in Andalucía, Spain in 2022.
The intervention falls within the monitoring component of the Lesser Kestrel conservation project developed by Defensa y Estudio del Medio Ambiente (DEMA). As far as DEMA is aware, this is the first time juveniles have been tagged with GPS trackers and aims to provide valuable new information on:
- Important areas for the birds during the breeding season in Spain, such as key feeding areas
- Causes of mortality
- Important areas for the birds after the breeding events in Spain
- Migratory routes to Africa
- Wintering areas in Africa
The data gathered, including mapping, could aid the design of new conservation strategies and policies whilst contributing to research of the species. Additionally, DEMA will be able to use this technology as an effective tool to raise general public awareness of this important bird of prey and its role in the ecosystem.
Mossy Earth’s collaboration with DEMA is the first time they will be using a GSM network for GPS tagging. This means the birds’ location can be accessed daily during both breeding and migratory seasons where in the past tracking only occurred as birds came within distance to antennas. In addition to purchasing the GPS trackers, Mossy Earth has covered some labour costs needed to monitor the project.
Read more about the project on Mossy Earth’s website.
Watch the video below for the latest update on the kestrels:
inlumi will always strive to be a company which contributes beyond client delivery obligations, and that includes taking care of our communities and natural environment. Our partnership with Mossy Earth is central to our rewilding and carbon-offsetting targets. For each inlumi team member, Mossy Earth plants four trees per person, per month.
Our membership also funds several projects, such as the GPS tagging of Lesser Kestrels. Other projects include building an eagle nest platform in Scotland, protecting turtle nests in Slovakia, and providing a feeding space for vultures in Namibia.