Conservation Biology Group

Threats and solutions

Egyptian Vulture population continues to increase in Catalonia

The results of the Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) census conducted in 2016 confirm that the species population continues to increase in Central and Eastern Catalonia. The Conservation Biology Group and the ‘Grup de Naturalistes d’Osona’ started in 2012 an intensive monitoring project of the Egyptian Vulture population, compiling information from different naturalists spread throughout the territory. It has been found that the population has increased from a single breeding pair in 1988 to the 28 different territories occupied at some point throughout the study period (1988-2016).

Of all these known territories, during this year monitoring have been confirmed 22 territories occupied by breeding pairs, although some of them failed at the incubation period or soon after the chick hatching; finally, only 16 pairs managed to raise fledglings successfully. Unlike last year, when a third of the pairs raised 2 fledglings, this year most of the breeding pairs have just raised single one whereas only 3 pairs have raised two (13.63%). Thus, despite being less breeding failures in 2016 than in 2015, when a third of the breeding pairs failed, productivity of the population in 2016 was 0.86 fledglings per pair, slightly lower than last year, when it was 0.91.

The location this year of a new territory between the Berguedà and Ripollès counties, thanks to the collaboration of several naturalists from Berguedà, corroborates the tendency to the growth of this Egyptian Vulture nucleus. However, despite having started breeding and having been incubating during a long period, this pair ended up failing when the chicks hatched. We do not know the reasons for this failure, although it could be related to the lack of experience of these individuals or to disturbances caused by climbers, given the proximity of climbing routes to the nest. The other failures detected this year were probably also related to disturbances caused by the human activity (climbers, paragliders and forestry works).

The chicks surveyed in the study area were ringed with a conventional ring and a red alphanumeric coded band (readable from long distances), so the Conservation Biology Group has already ringed 79 chicks since 2012.
Ringing fieldwork carried out by members of the Conservation Biology Group of the UB. Photo: Eva Puigpelat (Cos d'Agents Rurals)

Ringed Egyptian Vulture chick. Photo: Kiku Parés (Conservation Biology Group of the UB)

All this work was carried out thanks to the collaboration of Jordi Baucells and Carles Martorell from the ‘Grup de Naturalistes d’Osona’, Josep Maria Bas from the University of Girona, as well as naturalists such as Ferran Fontelles, Pere Aymerich, Joan Santandreu, Daniel Mañas, Pere Ignasi Isern and Ferran Gonzalez. Also participated Jordi Calaf from ‘Parc Natural de Montserrat’, Jordi Faus from ‘Consorci dels Espais Naturals del Ripollès’, Joan Montserrat from ‘Parc Natural de la Zona Volcànica de la Garrotxa’, and Albert Peris and Toni Mampel from ‘Parc Natural de Sant Llorenç de Munt’. The ringing, chick feather sampling and chick age estimation fieldwork was carried out tghanks Francesc Parés and Jordi Rosich. We are also grateful to 'Cos d’Agents Rurals', particularly to Gabriel Lampreave, as well as to 'Grup de Suport de Muntanya' for the climbing tasks conducted during the ringing fieldwork. Monitoring and ringing authorizations were given by the ‘Servei de Biodiversitat de la Generalitat de Catalunya’ and the protected areas managed by this governmental organisation. We also want to thank Àngel Miño from ‘Parc Natural de Sant Llorenç del Munt’, Jordi Calaf from ‘Parc Natural de Montserrat’ and Emili Bassols from ‘Parc Natural de la Zona Volcànica de la Garrotxa’.