Conservation Biology Group

Threats and solutions

The Conservation Biology Group participates in the Conference on necrophagous birds celebrated in Cadiz

On 11 and 12 December 2014 took place in Vejer de la Frontera (Cadis) the Conference on necrophagous birds organised by the Consejería de Medio Ambiente y Territorio of the Government of Andalucía. The main species was the Egyptian Vulture but the Bearded, Black and Griffon Vultures and the Red Kite were also approached. The conference was attended by experts from Andalucía, Extremadura, Valencia, the Canary Islands, Navarra, Madrid, the Basque Country and Catalonia among other territories, as well as from other countries where the Egyptian Vulture populations are endangered such us in Morocco.

The research and conservation work on the Egyptian Vulture in Andalucía must be highlighted, where the species is highly endangered due to the use of illegal poisons and collision with wind turbines. The fight against the use of poisons in Andalucía is beginning to get its first results, particularly thanks to the determinate and rigorous work of detecting and persecution of poison use by dog patrols and highly specialized staff. In addition, one of the keys for carrying out appropriate conservation measures in Andalucía has been the close collaboration between managing authorities and researchers. Commissioned by the Government of Andalucía, researchers perform accurate diagnostics on the species, so then this knowledge is used for specific conservation measures. As result of this, some abandoned territories in Málaga have been reoccupied, where the species became extinct some years ago.

On the other hand, it should also be mentioned that there is a contrast among the different Iberian populations of Egyptian Vulture, since there are some stable populations (Extremadura and Basque Country) while other ones are increasing (Canary Islands, Valencia and Catalonia). However, the situation is dramatic at the European level, since populations from Italy and the Balkans are just one step away from extinction.

The Conservation Biology Group of the University of Barcelona unveiled a study that is carrying out in collaboration with some Natural Parks and NGOs with the aim to determine which factors are causing the increase of the Catalan Population of Egyptian Vulture. First results presented were quite optimistic since the population of this species in the study area (Eastern Catalonia) has increased from 1 to 27 pairs during the last 25 years, with moderately good reproductive rates. It was told that this growth might be caused by a low use of poisons and income of individuals from other areas. The knowledge obtained during this research will be very important in order to propose conservation directives to be applied in other endangered populations.

The conference conclusions (in Spanish) can be read in the following link.