During the decade of 60s of the past century, the Egyptian vulture extinguished from extensive parts of Catalonia and only remained few pairs in Western areas near Aragon. In 1980s, a new pair recolonized an ancient area further East. From 1990s, the ancient territories were recovered little by little and areas with no historical records were colonised, including Central and Eastern Catalonia, increasing its population and distribution.
Nowadays there are close to 30 occupied territories in this area that are monitored every year focusing on breeding success, diet, nestling quality, tagging and also studying the relationship between the species and the new changing scenarios. Some new aspects on the species have been recently studied, as the species distribution related with landfills (see study 1), a new methodology with stable isotopes was developed to determine its diet (see study 2), the molecular compounds featuring the quality of nestlings and the pollutants they have (see studies 3 and 4) and the population viability analysis of this nucleus (see study 5). All these knowledge and information should serve to implement real and effective conservation measures not only in this population but also in other decreasing or endangered populations.
This year, as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, we had many limitations to adequately monitor the population, so not all the potential territories had been equally prospected. 24 territories were monitored, in which surely 15 reproduced with success, one did not succeed, and the others had not sufficiently monitored to ensure reproduction. 1.25 nestlings per pair fledged so it may be considered a good productivity for this population. The bad news is that one traditional pair disappeared. This was after the death of nestlings with rodenticides last year in a neighbouring pair (see related news here). However, two new pairs were discovered in the Eastern distribution area corroborating the increase of the population.
This monitoring and research program is carried out by the Equip de Biologia de la Conservació de la Universitat de Barcelona and IRBIO with collaboration of the Departament de Ciències Ambientals de la Universitat de Girona and supported by Red Eléctrica de España, Fundació Catalunya-La Pedrera and Diputació de Barcelona. This project received the award of the Delta Birding Festival sponsored by ICO, Oryx and Fundació Catalunya-La Pedrera. In field tasks, the Mountain Support Group of Agents Rurals has been essential, as rangers of Natural Parks of Diputació de Barcelona and Generalitat de Catalunya and Subdirección General de la Biodiversidad del Ministerio para la Transición Ecológica. Grup de Naturalistes d’Osona, GACO, ICO and Naturalistes de la Garrotxa helped with monitoring and logistic tasks. Servei de la Biodiversitat de la Generalitat de Catalunya helped with logistics and permissions. Ferrovial and Consorci per a la gestió de residus urbans d’Osona also helped with logistics.