The ecological role of Accipitridae vultures in terrestrial landscapes of Azerbaijan
Scavengers can provide ecosystem services to people by removal of dead animals that could become sources of disease. From such point of view, it seems appropriate to evaluate these benefits in Azerbaijan in quantitative terms. To this end, in 2013, an extensive monitoring was organized in the Turyanchay Reserve, which covers six regions and neighboring territories (the total population here is 640 thousand people). A high level of animal mortality in the Turyanchay Reserve is supported by the concentration of 24 species of wild mammals and 700 thousand domestic animals in the surrounding environment. The difficult terrain area is another factor leading to the death of animals. Animals grazing on hillsides often break down and die. The bodies of domestic and wild animals killed by wolves also often remain lying on this territory. In addition, vehicles traveling along the Agdash-Gabala highway cause the death of many domestic and wild animals. During the two months of the study (from June to July), 62 dead animals were found. Ten kinds of diseases were identified in 38 undecomposed bodies of these animals. Scavengers eat animal bodies in one-three days (without bones), preventing them from becoming a source of infection. The role of necrophages in minimizing of epizootic cases and improving sanitary conditions is important for ecosystems, because the blood of most animals is a carrier of diseases and most of the parasites present in it are common to both humans and animals. Scavengers can be used by veterinary organizations as indicators to simplify the identification of animal bodies and the subsequent disposal of their remains.