Visonic, a developer and manufacturer of wireless home security and safety systems and components, announced that the Israel Nature & Parks Authority (INPA) has chosen the company's technology to enable research that will help protect the griffon vulture population in Israel.
The population of the griffon vulture in Israel has been rapidly and sadly declining, only a couple of hundred birds remain in the wild. This dramatic decline has been caused mainly by the massive and uncontrolled use of pesticides that result in poisonings, ill-treatment and accidental electrocution. Moreover, many important aspects of their demography and feeding habits are not fully understood. This knowledge is crucial to implementing proper management measures. As a result, the INPA initiated a research program to monitor and observe the vultures' behavior and activities. The hope is that the collected research data on the vultures' feeding and mating habits will provide clues to ensure the vultures' survival and will shed light on the mystifying population decline.
To monitor the vultures' behavior, the INPA constructed more than 20 feeding stations across Israel. These feeding stations provide the vultures with sufficient food, free of poisons and chemicals. At each feeding station, the INPA rangers place in close proximity a "logger", a special device containing a wireless Visonic transceiver that communicates using the company's technology. Also, a tag containing a Visonic transceiver is attached to a wing of each vulture. The tag communicates with the feeding station's logger. To enable reliable monitoring, Visonic developed a special application over the technology: when a vulture is far from the feeding station, the tag sends a signal to the logger approximately every four minutes. The logger normally will not receive the signal due to the distance. However, when the vulture reaches the proximity of the feeding station (several hundred meters), the logger will begin to receive the signal. From that moment on, as long as the vulture is in communication distance from the logger, the tag sends signals every few seconds. The logger then records various data such as which vulture is at the feeding station and its signal strength. This provides critical information about the vultures' eating habits and group behavior.
Visonic's technology answers the INPA's needs for this important research project: the two-way synchronized transmission enables communication between the tag and logger and an adaptive signal rate based on distance; the RF range is broad, ensuring a communication distance of several hundred meters; the battery lifetime of the tags is sufficient (more than three years); and the equipment is rugged enough for outdoor conditions, while lightweight enough to be attached to the vultures' wings.
"We are excited about the possibilities Visonic's devices are opening for us," said Ohad Hatzofe, Avian Ecologist at the Science & Conservation division of the INPA. "This technology empowers us to collect crucial data for understanding the behavior and habits of the vultures and will subsequently enable us to protect them and increase their population."