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Munir Virani
   Photo

Munir Virani

   Biography

Munir Virani was born and raised in Nairobi Kenya. As a teenager, cricket took up most of his time. He was fortunate to play for one of the top cricketing clubs in Kenya for which the rewards for winning a tournament were usually a couple of nights in Kenya’s elite game reserves and national parks. He utilized these visits to nurture and cultivate his interest in wildlife. He continued to play cricket with a great deal of passion, and with tours and competitions, Munir just managed to secure a place at Moi University for a Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Management. This was short-lived as he missed his cricket and decided to transfer to Nairobi University where he could study and play cricket at the same time. However, in 1990 when he was selected for the Kenya Cricket Team to represent Kenya in the ICC World Cup in Holland, he knew he had to make a decision and ultimately chose studies over cricket. He always maintains that this was the best decision he ever made. He graduated with First Class Honors in Zoology and was selected by The Peregrine Fund to train as a raptor biologist under the legendary Simon Thomsett.
In 2002, Munir was awarded the Aga Khan Foundation award for excellence in the Field of Science and Technology by His Highness Prince Amyn Mohamed.
Munir has published over 100 scientific and popular articles including a paper in the esteemed journal Nature. In 2007, he was awarded a prize for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year in a competition organized by Twende Travel Magazine.
He currently lives in Nairobi with his wife and two sons. His interests are cricket, squash, raptor watching and photography.

The Peregrine Fund
P.O Box 45111  
Nairobi,  Nairobi  00100  Kenya
Phone: +254-733-748922
Email: tpf@africaonline.co.ke


   Research Interests

Munir completed his Master’s degree on the endangered Sokoke Scops Owl at the University of Leicester (U.K.). He successfully completed his Ph.D research on Augur Buzzards at Lake Naivasha where he also studied African Fish Eagles. In 2000, Munir was sent to South Asia by The Peregrine Fund to evaluate the magnitude of declines of populations of Gyps vultures in the region. He set up a team of biologists and technical staff in India, Nepal and Pakistan and established a successful field and diagnostic research project that helped to identify the pharmaceutical drug diclofenac as the cause of the catastrophic crash of vulture populations there. Munir also directs raptor research projects in Africa.
Munir is a member of Kenya's Bird Committee, the Raptor Working Group and Associate Editor for the African Journal of Ornithology - Ostrich. He is also on the Board of Directors as the Director of the Southern Hemisphere for the Raptor Research Foundation.

   Publications

Kassara, C., Gangoso, L., Mellone, U., Piasevoli, G., Hadjikyriakou, T.G., Tsiopelas, N., Giokas, S., Lopez-Lopez, P., Urios, V., Figuerola, J., Silva, R., Bouten, W., Kirschel, A.N.G., Virani, M.Z., Fiedler, W., Berthold, P., Gschweng, M. 2017. Current and future suitability of wintering grounds for a long-distance migratory raptor. Scientific Reports 7:8798       pdf

Monadjem, A. & M.Z. Virani. 2016. Habitat associations of birds at Mara Naboisho Conservancy, Kenya. Ostrich 87(3):225-230       pdf

Cortes-Avizanda, A., G. Blanco, T.L. DeVault, A. Markandya, M.Z. Virani, J. Brandt, J.A. Donazar. 2016. Supplementary feeding and endangered avian scavengers: benefits, caveats, and controversies. Frontiers in Ecology and Environment 14(4): 191-199.

Virani, M. 2016. Simon Thomsett: inspirational guardian angel of the raptor world. SWARA 40(1):66-69

Virani, M. 2016. African vultures trapped in a game of poisons. SWARA 40(1):78.

Ogada, D., P. Shaw, R.L. Beyers, R. Buij, C. Murn, J.M. Thiollay, C.M. Beale, R.M. Holdo, D. Pomeroy, N. Baker, S.C. Kruger, A. Botha, M.Z. Virani, A. Monadjem, and A.R.E. Sinclair. 2015. Another continental vulture crisis: Africa's vultures collapsing toward extinction. Conservation Letters 2015 pp.1-9.       pdf

Pomeroy, D., P. Shaw, M. Opige, G. Kaphu, D.L. Ogada, and M.Z. Virani. 2015. Vulture populations in Uganda: using road survey data to measure both densities and encounter rates within protected and unprotected areas. Bird Conservation International 25(4):399-414.

Virani, M. 2014. The future of Africa lies in investing in conservation education. Ismalili Africa, December:77-78       pdf

Virani, M. 2012. Raptors in crisis- finding a balance. SWARA 36(4)18-22       pdf

Davies, R. and M. Virani. 2012. Click and log a raptor- new hi-tech mapping device for Africa. SWARA 36(4):44-49       pdf

Botha, A.J., D.L. Ogada, and M.Z. Virani 2012. Pan-African vulture summit 2012, April 16-20, 2012, Masai Mara, Kenya. Wildlife without Borders, SASOL, Endangered Wildlife Trust, and The Peregrine Fund, Modderfontein, South Africa.

Kendall, C., M.Z. Virani, P. Kirui, S. Thomsett, and M. Githiru. 2012. Mechanisms of coexistence in vultures: understanding the patterns of vulture abundance at carcasses in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. Condor 114:523-531.       pdf

Lalah, J.O., P.O. Otieno, N. Richards, M. Odino, L. Frank, A. Cotterill, S. Dolrenry, L. Hazzah, D. Ogada, M.Z. Virani, and D.J. Martins. 2012. A chronicling of long-standing carbofuran use and its menace to wildlife in Kenya. Pp. 39-98 in N. Richards (ed.), Carbofuran and wildlife poisoning: global perspectives and forensic approaches. John Wiley & Son, West Sussex, UK.

Monadjem, A., M.Z. Virani, C. Jackson, and A. Reside. 2012. Rapid decline and shift in the future distribution predicted for the endangered Sokoke Scops Owl Otus ireneae due to climate change. Bird Conservation International. 10.1017/SO959270912000330

Otieno, P., K.W. Shramm, G. Fister, J. Lalah, S. Ojwach, and M. Virani. 2012. Spatial distribution and temporal trend in concentration of Carbofuran, Diazinon and Chlorpyrifos ethyl residues in sediment and water in Lake Naivasha, Kenya. Bulletin of Environmenal Contamination and Toxicology DOI 10.1007/s00128-012-0529-7

Otieno, P., J.O. Lalah, and M.Z. Virani. 2012. Forensic analysis of carbofuran in vulture and environmental samples collected from Laikipia and Isiolo districts. In N. Richards (ed.), Carbofuran and wildlife poisoning: global perspectives and forensic approaches. John Wiley & Sons, West Sussex, UK.

Mutia, T.M., M.Z. Virani, W.N. Moturi, B. Muyela, W.J. Mavura, and J.O. Lalah. 2012. Copper, lead and cadmium concentrations in surface water, sediments and fish, C. carpio, from Lake Naivasha: effect of recent anthropogenic activities. Environmental Earth Sciences. DOI 10.1007/s12665-012-1556-8

Virani, M., A. Monadjem, S. Thomsett, and C. Kendall. 2012. Seasonal variation in breeding Rüppell's Vultures (Gyps rueppellii) at Kwenia, southern Kenya with implications for conservation. Bird Conservation International 22:260-269. DOI 10.1017/S0959270911000505

Lancaster, S., N.L. Richards, A. Gachangja, D. Ogada, M. Gudka, J.O. Lalah, M. Virani, P.O. Oteino, and D. Martins. 2011. Environmental monitoring in Kenya: preserving the biodiversity of East Africa. Environmental Chemistry Group Bulletin 2011:3-9.

Ogada, D.L., F. Keesing, and M.Z. Virani. 2011. Dropping dead: causes and consequences of vulture population declines worldwide. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 2011:1-15. DOI 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2011.06293.x

Otieno, P.O., J.O. Lalah, M.Z. Virani, I.O. Jondiko, and K.-W. Schramm. 2011. Carbofuran use and abuse in Kenya: residues in soils, plants, water courses and the African White-backed Vultures (Gyps africanus) found dead. Environmentalist 31:382-393.

Virani, M., C. Kendall, P. Njoroge, and S. Thomsett. 2011. Major declines in the abundance of vultures and other scavenging raptors in and around the Masai Mara ecosystem, Kenya. Biological Conservation 144:746-752.

Otieno, P.O., J.O. Lalah, M. Virani, I.O. Jondiko,and K.-W. Schramm. 2010. Carbofuran and its toxic metabolites provide forensic evidence for furadan exposure in vultures (Gyps africanus) in Kenya. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology doi:10.1007/s00128-9956-5.       pdf

Otieno, P.O., J.O. Lalah, M. Virani, I.O. Jondiko, and K.-W. Schramm. 2010. Soil and water contamination with carbofuran residues in agricultural farmlands in Kenya following the application of the technical formulation Furadan. Journal of Environmental Science and Health Part B 45:137-144.

Smallie, J.T., and M. Virani. 2010. A preliminary assessment of the potential risks from electrical infrastructure to large birds in Kenya. Scopus 30:32-39.       pdf

Virani, M. 2010. African Fish Eagle. Pp. 153-158 in R.E. Tingay and T.E. Katzner (eds.), The eagle watchers: observing and conserving raptors around the world. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.

Virani, M. 2010. Stealth and the city – the predator of Nairobi streets. SWARA 2.

Virani, M., P. Kirui, A. Monadjem, S. Thomsett, and M. Githiru. 2010. Nesting status of African White-backed Vultures Gyps africanus in the Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. Ostrich 81:205-209.       pdf

Virani, M., P. Njoroge, and I. Gordon. 2010. Disconcerting trends in populations of the endangered Sokoke Scops Owl Otus ireneae in the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Kenya. Ostrich 81:155-158.       pdf

Virani, M.. 2009. (Review of) Birds of prey of the Indian Subcontinent, by Rishad Naoroji with illustrations by N. John Schmitt. Journal of Raptor Research 42:172-173.       pdf

Virani, M. 2009. Spreading the message by camera. SWARA 2009:46-47.       pdf

Virani, M. 2009. Hail the vulture -- the MR Clean of East Africa. SWARA 2009:3.       pdf

Virani, M. 2009. International Vulture Awareness Day 2009: celebrations in Nairobi, Kenya. SWARA 2009:58-63.       pdf

Fuchs, J., J.-M. Pons, S.M. Goodman, V. Bretagnolle, M. Melo, R.C.K. Bowie, D. Currie, R. Safford, M.Z. Virani, S. Thomsett, A. Hija, C. Cruard, and E. Pasquet. 2008. Tracing the colonization history of the Indian Ocean scops-owls (Strigiformes: Otus) with further insight into the spatio-temporal origin of the Malagasy avifauna. BMC Evolutionary Biology 8:197.        pdf

Johnson, J.A., M. Gilbert, M.Z. Virani, M. Asim, and D.P. Mindell. 2008. Temporal genetic analysis of the critically endangered Oriental White-backed Vulture in Pakistan. Biological Conservation 141:2403-2409.       pdf

Pain, D.J., C.G.R. Bowden, A. Cunningham, R. Cuthbert, D. Das, M. Gilbert, R.D. Jakati, Y. Jhala, A.A. Khan, V. Naidoo, L. Oaks, J. Parry-Jones, V. Prakash, A. Rahmani, S.P. Ranade, H.S. Baral, K.R. Senacha, S. Saravanan, N. Shah, G. Swan, D. Swarup, M.A. Taggart, R.T. Watson, M.Z. Virani, K. Wolter, and R.E. Green. 2008. Breeding and mortality of Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps bengalensis in Punjab Province, Pakistan. Bird Conservation International 12:311-326.       pdf

Pain, D.J., C.G.R. Bowden, A. Cunningham, R. Cuthbert, D. Das, M. Gilbert, R.D. Jakati, Y. Jhala, A.A. Khan, V. Naidoo, L. Oaks, J. Parry-Jones, V. Prakash, A. Rahmani, S.P. Ranade, H.S. Baral, K.R. Senacha, S. Saravanan, N. Shah, G. Swan, D. Swarup, M.A. Taggart, R.T. Watson, M.Z. Virani, K. Wolter, and R.E. Green. 2008. The race to prevent the extinction of South Asian vultures. Bird Conservation International 18:S30-S48.       pdf

Virani, M. 2008. Diet composition of Sokoke Scops Owl Otus ireneae in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. Scopus 27:6-9.       pdf

Virani, M. 2008. Saving East Africa's vultures. Pp. 22-25 in The World's Best Birding -- Kenya.        pdf

Virani, M., Giri, J.B., Watson, R.T., and Baral, H.S. 2008. Surveys of Himalayan Vultures (Gyps himalayensis) in the Annapurna Conservation Area, Mustang, Nepal. Journal of Raptor Research 42:197-203.       pdf

Otieno, P.O., K.-W. Schramm, G. Pfister, J.O. Lalah, S.O. Ojwach, and M. Virani. 2012. Spatial distribution and temporal trend in concentration of carbofuran, diazinon and chloropyrifos ethyl residues in sediment and water in Lake Naivasha, Kenya. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. doi 10.1007/s00128-012-0529-7.

Watson, R.T., M. Gilbert, and M. Virani. 2008. Neck-drooping posture of Oriental White-backed Vultures (Gyps bengalensis) in close proximity to human observers. Journal of Raptor Research 42:66-67.       pdf

Gilbert, M., R.T. Watson, and M.Z. Virani. 2007. Neck-drooping posture in Oriental White-backed Vultures (Gyps bengalensis): an unsuccessful predictor of vulture mortality and population decline, and its probable role in thermoregulation. Journal of Raptor Research 41:35-40.       pdf

Gilbert, M., R.T. Watson, M.Z. Virani, J.L. Oaks, S. Ahmed, M.J.I. Chaudhry, M.Arshad, S. Mahmood, A. Ali, and A.A. Khan. 2006. Rapid population declines and mortality clusters in three Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps bengalensis colonies in Pakistan due to diclofenac poisoning. Oryx 40:388-399.       pdf

Virani, M.Z. 2006. Factors affecting the availability of Yellow-toothed Mole-rats Tachyorectes spendens as prey for Augur Buzzards Buteo augur in the southern Lake Naivasha area, Kenya. Gabar 17:6-15.       pdf

Virani, M. 2006. In steep decline: conditions around the lake do not augur well for Naivasha's buzzards. SWARA 20(2):20-22.       pdf

Prakash, V., R. E. Green, A. R. Rahmani, D. J. Pain, M. Z. Virani, A. A. Khan, H. S. Baral, Y. V. Jhala, R. Naoroji, N. Shah, C. G. R. Bowden, B. C. Chaudhry, G. Narayan, and P. Gautam. 2005. Evidence to support that diclofenac caused catastrophic vulture population decline. Current Science 88: 1533-1534.

Virani, M., and R. Watson. 2005. Asian Vulture Crisis Project: 2004 update. Wingspan 14: 5.

Baral, H. S., J. B. Giri, and M. Virani. 2004. On the decline of Oriental White-backed Vultures Gyps bengalensis in lowland Nepal. Pp. 215-219 in: R. D. Chancellor, and B.-U. Meyburg (eds.), Raptors Worldwide. World Working Group on Birds of Prey and Owls/MME BirdLife Hungary, Berlin.       pdf

Gilbert, M., J. L. Oaks, M. Z. Virani, R. T. Watson, S. Ahmed, M. J. I. Chaudhry, M. Arshad, S. Mahmood, A. Ali, R. M. Khattak, and A. A. Khan. 2004. The status and decline of vultures in the provinces of Punjab and Sind, Pakistan: a 2003 update. Pp. 221-234 in: R. D. Chancellor, and B.-U. Meyburg (eds.), Raptors Worldwide. World Working Group on Birds of Prey and Owls/MME, Berlin.       pdf

Oaks, J. L., S. L. Donahoe, F. R. Rurangirwa, B. A. Rideout, M. Gilbert, and M. Virani. 2004. Identification of a novel mycoplasma species from an Oriental White-backed Vulture (Gyps bengalensis). Journal of Clinical Microbiology 42: 5909-5912.       pdf

Oaks, J. L., M. Gilbert, M. Z. Virani, R. T. Watson, C. U. Meteyer, B. Rideout, H. L. Shivaprasad, S. Ahmed, M. J. I. Chaudhry, M. Arshad, S. Mahmood, A. Ali, and A. A. Khan. 2004. Diclofenac residues as the cause of vulture population decline in Pakistan. Nature 427: 630-633.       pdf

Oaks, J. L., C. U. Meteyer, B. A. Rideout, H. L. Shivaprasad, M. Gilbert, M. Virani, R. T. Watson, and A. A. Khan. 2004. Diagnostic investigation of vulture mortality: the anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac is associated with visceral gout. Pp. 241-243 in: R. D. Chancellor, and B.-U. Meyburg (eds.), Raptors Worldwide. World Working Group on Birds of Prey and Owls/MME, Berlin.       pdf

Sarrazin, F., M. Z. Virani, M. Gilbert, and A. A. Khan. 2004. Preliminary population viability analyses for Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps bengalensis in Punjab Province, Pakistan. Pp. 257-262 in: R. D. Chancellor, and B.-U. Meyburg (eds.), Raptors Worldwide. World Working Group on Birds of Prey and Owls/MME, Berlin.

Watson, R. T., M. Gilbert, J. L. Oaks, and M. Virani. 2004. The collapse of vulture populations in South Asia. Biodiversity 5: 3-7.       pdf

Virani, M. Z., P. C. Benson, M. Gilbert, and S. Thomsett. 2004. A survey of the reproductive activities at some Gyps vulture nests in Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Ranthambhore National Parks, India, in the 2002/2003 breeding season. Pp. 263-268 in: R. D. Chancellor, and B.-U. Meyburg (eds.), Raptors Worldwide. World Working Group on Birds of Prey and Owls/MME, Berlin.       pdf

Oaks, J. L., M. Gilbert, M. Z. Virani, R. T. Watson, C. U. Meteyer, B. A. Rideout, H. L. Shivaprasad, S. Ahmed, M. J. I. Chaudhry, M. Arshad, S. Mahmood, A. Ali, and A. A. Khan. 2003. Vet drug responsible for population decline of White-backed Vultures in Pakistan. Mistnet 4(3&4): 13-14.

Virani, M. Z., and D. M. Harper. 2004. A comparative study of the breeding behavior of the Augur Buzzard, Buteo augur, in two different land-use areas in southern Lake Naivasha, Kenya. Ostrich 75: 11-19.       pdf

Anderson, M. D., P. J. Mundy, and M. A. Virani. 2002. (Abstract) The demise of vultures in southern Asia: research and conservation recommendations for Africa. Pp. 427 in: Third American Ornithological Conference. American Ornithologists' Union, New Orleans, LA.

Gilbert, M., M. Z. Virani, R. T. Watson, J. L. Oaks, P. C. Benson, A. A. Khan, S. Ahmed, J. Chaudhry, M. Arshad, S. Mahmood, and Q. A. Shah. 2002. Breeding and mortality of Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps bengalensis in Punjab Province, Pakistan. Bird Conservation International 12: 311-326.

Harper, D. M., M. M. Harper, M. A. Virani, A. Smart, R. B. Childress, R. Adatia, I. Henderson, and B. Chege. 2002. Population fluctuations and their causes in the African Fish Eagle, (Haliaeetus vocifer (Daudin)) at Lake Naivasha, Kenya. Hydrobiologia 488: 171-180.

Oaks, L., and M. Virani. 2002. Asian vulture crisis: notes from the field: research on White-backed Vultures in Pakistan. Vulture News 47: 50-54.

Virani, M. 2002. Nepal vulture study. Danphe 11(1): 14-15.

Virani, M. 2002. Prayer of the African Fish Eagle. The Peregrine Fund Newsletter 33: 10-11.

Virani, M. Z., M. Gilbert, R. Watson, A. A. Khan, L. Oaks, J. Chaudhry, S. Ahmed, M. Arshad, S. Mahmood, and A. Ali. 2002. (Abstract) Mortality and population collapse of Oriental White-backed Vulture in Pakistan. P. 654 in Third North American Ornithological Conference. American Ornithologists' Union, New Orleans, LA.

Khan, A. A., M. Z. Virani, L. Oaks, P. C. Benson, M. Gilbert, R. T. Watson, and R. W. Risebrough. 2001. A survey of the Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps bengalensis in the Punjab Province, Pakistan. Journal of Research (Science) 12: 97-104.

Oaks, L., B. A. Rideout, M. Gilbert, R. Watson, M. Virani, and A. A. Khan. 2001. (Abstract) Summary of diagnostic investigation into vulture mortality: Punjab Province, Pakistan, 2000-2001. Pp. 12-13 in: T. Katzner, and J. Parry-Jones (eds.), Reports from the Workshop on Indian Gyps vultures. Estación Biologica Donaña/Raptor Research Foundation, Seville, Spain.

Virani, M. 2001. (Abstract) Nesting density and nest-site selection of the Augur Buzzard, Buteo augur, in relation to different land-use areas in the southern Lake Naivasha area, Kenya. Ostrich Supplement 15: 205.

Virani, M., M. Gilbert, R. Watson, L. Oaks, P. Benson, A. A. Khan, and H.-S. Baral. 2001. Asian Vulture Crisis Project: field results from Pakistan and Nepal for the 2000-2001 field season. Pp. 7-9 in T. Katzner and J. Parry-Jones (eds.), Reports from the Workshop on Indian Gyps vultures. Estación Biologica Donaña/Raptor Research Foundation, Seville, Spain.

Virani, M., R. Watson, L. Oaks, M. Gilbert, P. Benson, A. A. Khan, H. S. Baral, Q. A. Shah, and J. B. Giri. 2001. The Asian vulture crisis--a global perspective. Pp. 3-6 in L. Bennun and M. Virani (eds.), Responding to the Asian vulture crisis: planning for vulture monitoring and conservation in Kenya. National Museums of Kenya, Kenya, South Africa.

Risebrough, R. W., and M. A. Virani. 2000. Threats to the vultures of Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, and stragegies for an international action plan. Newsletter of the World Working Group on Birds of Prey and Owls 29/32: 68-70.

Virani, M. 2000. Raptor studies in Kenya: past, present and future. Pp. 27-34 in: R. D. Chancellor, and B.-U. Meyburg (eds.), Proceedings of the V World Conference on Birds of Prey and Owls. World Working Group on Birds of Prey and Owls/Hancock House, Berlin/Blaine, WA.

Watson, R., M. Virani, R. Risebrough, and L. Oaks. 2000. Catastrophic vulture population decine in Asia: current knowledge and a proposal to understand its cause. Pp. 9-13 in D. Prawiradilaga (ed.), Proceedings Asian Raptor Research Conservation: the Second Symposium on Raptors of Asia. Indonesian Committee for the Second Symposium of Asian Raptor Research and Conservation, Cibinong, Indonesia.

Virani, M. Z. A., and B. Copeland. 1999. The proposed Ngurunman Project: use of raptors as tools for conservation and ecological monitoring of biological diversity. East African Natural History Society Bulletin 29: 5-7.

Virani, M. Z. A. 1999. The breeding ecology and behaviour of the Augur Buzzard Buteo augur in relation to different land-uses in the southern Lake Naivasha area, Kenya. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK.

Virani, M. 1999. Born to be survivors. Kenya Birds 7: 52-54.

Virani, M., R. T. Watson. 1998. Raptors in the East African tropics and western Indian Ocean islands: state of ecological knowledge and conservation status. Journal of Raptor Research 32: 28-39.

Virani, M., R. Thorstrom, and D. Harper. 1997. What is happening to Naivasha's fish eagles? Kenya Birds 5: 98-100.

Virani, M. 1995. Augur Buzzard project - Naivasha 1995/96. EANHS Bulletin 25: 66-67.

Virani, M. Z. A. 1994. Ecology of the endangered Sokoke Scops Owl. MS.c Thesis, University of Leicester, United Kingdom.



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