Urgent Actions to Strengthen the Balkan Population of the Egyptian Vulture and Secure Its Flyway


© Pavel Stepanek

Urgent Actions to Strengthen the Balkan Population of the Egyptian Vulture and Secure Its Flyway (LIFE16 NAT/BG/000874)

 

Short name: Egyptian Vulture New LIFE
 

Goal:

It aims to reinforce the easternmost population of the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) in Europe by delivering urgent conservation measures towards eliminating major known threats in the breeding grounds and along the flyway. The project objectives are in line with the aims of most recent strategic document outlining the conservation tactic to save the species: the Flyway Action Plan for the Conservation of the Balkan and Central Asian Populations of the Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus (EVFAP), as an integrated key component of the Vulture MsAP. Hence the specific objectives set are to three overarching goals:
 

1.  Reduce adult mortality through:
 

•   Minimizing loss of adults due to deliberate or accidental poisoning and electrocution and collisions with energy infrastructures in the breeding grounds;

•   Еliminating safe food availability as a limiting factor in the breeding grounds;

•   Mitigating threats – reducing losses due to poisoning, direct persecution, electrocution at bottleneck and congregation sites along the flyway;
 

2.   Reinforce the breeding population on the Balkans by deploying a targeted pilot restocking programme to boost population recovery
 

3.   Increase awareness of and support for Egyptian vulture conservation through relevant stakeholders’ engagement
 

Period of implementation:

5.5 years (1.7.2017-31.12.2022)

 

Range states:

•    Balkans: Bulgaria, Greece, FYR of Macedonia and Albania

•    Middle East: Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt

•    Africa: Ethiopia, Niger, Nigeria and Chad

 

Partners:

Coordinating beneficiary: Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds / BirdLife Bulgaria (BSPB)
 

Associated beneficiaries:
 

  1. Hellenic Ornithological Society / Birdlife Greece (HOS)
  2. WWF Greece
  3. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds / BirdLife UK (RSPB)
  4. Doğa Derneği / BirdLife Turkey (DD)
  5. BirdLife Middle East
  6. BirdLife Africa
  7. A.P. Leventis Ornithological and Research Institute (APLORI)
  8. CMS Raptors MoU
  9. Green Balkans

 

Actions
 

The first overarching goal dealing with adult mortality reduction involves a suite of actions that could be summarized as follows:
 

  • Investigate the impact of agriculture chemicals and Identify as poisoning agents and evaluate the use of veterinary drugs to inform response strategy;
  • Lobbying to secure appropriate changes of legislation regarding the use of dangerous pesticides and vet medicine products;
  • Develop local action plans against wildlife poisoning;
  • Test of alternative methods to reduce human-wildlife conflict that trigger Egyptian vulture persecution;
  • Establish a pan-Balkan network of stakeholders against wildlife poisoning;
  • Evaluate the magnitude of damages to Egyptian vulture due to poisoning, electrocution and illegal killing along the flyway;
  • Establish controlled local carcass dumps to support non-territorial birds at key sites;
  • Test alternatives to use of strychnine or other poisons to control rabies at key congregation sites in the wintering grounds in Africa;
  • Reduce loss of individuals due to power generation and power supply (wind turbine collision and electrocution) along the flyway;
  • Develop local capacity to combat illegal killing and trafficking of birds along the flyway.

 

The second major goal shall establish the basis for the recovery of the Balkan breeding population, through tailored restocking strategy. It will be deploited through the following key actions:

 

  • Establish Balkan Egyptian vulture captive breeding pool to reinforce the breeding population in Bulgaria and Greece;
  • Develop and pilot a restocking strategy for the Balkans
     

The third and probably most appealing suite of actions are intended to increase awareness of and support for Egyptian vulture conservation through relevant stakeholders’ engagement. They will be informed by an ethnographic study and guided by a communication strategy and public awareness campaigns. The knowledge and attitudes of key stakeholders in representative areas to Egyptian vultures will be initially registered and carefully monitored. Two major international campaigns are planned:
 

  • A Mile for the Egyptian vulture: campaign to communicate main threats to the species to local communities and general public in key countries along the flyway; and
  • Fly with the Vulture: campaign to engage with prospective supporters.

 

Additional communication effort will be invested to:
 

  • Develop community understanding and involvement by creating local caretaker groups;
  • Ensure effective national and international media coverage of the project;
  • Networking and cooperation with experts along the flyway to disseminate the conservation needs of the species;
  • Traditional communication tools will be engaged, including interactive website, attractive (to local tastes) information boards and specific communication printed materials.
     

Serious effort will be involved to secure adequate project management, monitoring and reporting. The activities envisaged include:
 

  • Establish a Project Steering Group and a Project Team and making them operational;
  • Secure the technical & financial reporting;
  • Monitor the impact of the project activities on the target species and the conservation status of the SPAs and other project sites;
  • Assess the socio-economic impact of the project actions on the local economy and population;
  • Assess the project's impact on the ecosystem functions.

 

Expected impact
 

  • Wildlife species: 15% increase of the EV target population; benefit also other raptor populations outside of the EU (Turkey, Central Asia and Africa).
  • Employment: positions created (20% increase at level of beneficiaries) and capacity built in stakeholders.
  • Communication: Awareness raised of 140,000,000 people over three continents.


Budget: overall 5,848,458 € (maximum EU contribution 4,386,343 €)

 

Project website: www.LifeNeophron.eu