THE IMPACT OF THE USE OF PESTICIDES ON THE EGYPTIAN VULTURE IN BULGARIA

20.08.2020

© Dimitar Gradinarov

The legislation on use, production, import, storage, and treatment of plant protection products (PPP) in Bulgaria is complicated and to a higher extend influenced by the EU legislation. Nevertheless, the law seems quite strong in terms of the authorization of PPPs. But the low level of insurance of transparency of the procedures combined with a limited range of control mechanisms by the law opens space for implementation of bаd practices. It also allows the use of Plant Protection Products (PPPs) which include banned toxic active substances (Lanat 20Sl and Lanat 25WP for example). This is quite disturbing finding and poses a direct threat to birds, biodiversity in general and human health. One positive aspect of the legislation is that it sets out the National Action Plan on Sustainable Use of Pesticides. This plan is expected also to set out specific measures for the protection of the aquatic environment (surface and groundwater) and drinking water from the effects of pesticides. Most recently, one of the national televisions in Bulgaria broadcast a reportage investigating the use of a banned substance in agriculture, which showed quite disturbing trends and results.

 

In total 180 PPPs are found to be used in the Egyptian Vulture Project area, of which 35 insecticides, 88 fungicides, 43 herbicides, and 14 other PPPs. They contain active substances that potentially pose risk for vultures, including chlorpyrifos, chlorpyrifosethyl, and cypermethrin, which are assessed to be dangerous for vultures. Usage of dangerous authorized or/and illegal active substances in combination with bad practices increases the risk of secondary poisoning of vultures. The presence of unsecured warehouses for old hazardous pesticides in the breeding areas of Vultures, along with the use of illegal PPPs also creates risks for the Egyptian and other vulture species.

 

During the field study, interviews were taken with farmers-owners, and 17 agriculture pharmacies were visited to investigate what pesticides they trade with. Anti poison dog unit and a drone were used to look for poisoned animals in the fields around Egyptian vulture nests in Bulgaria in 2018 and 2019. No dead birds were found, however, dispersed packages of pesticides and containers have been found in many occasions around agricultural fields. This is a good example of a bad practice that is very common and pose a threat to biodiversity and human health.

 

During the filed study we also checked warehouses for the storage of pesticides. In total 17 warehouses for old agricultural chemicals were visited in the region of Provadiisko-Royaksko Plateau and 20 warehouses in the Eastern Rhodopes. Warehouses for old agricultural chemicals appear to be still of high risk for wildlife, including vultures. The warehouses not always are kept in good and secure conditions and sometimes are destroyed or accessible for people and animals. In the project area in total 6 warehouses of high risk and 6 warehouses of medium risk were registered and there 3 dangerous chemicals were surely identified - Carbicron 50 SCW, Dicuran 80 WP, and Peropal 25WP. Two warehouses were identified as dangerous and a signal was submitted to the relevant authorities. Both of them were visited and closed by the authorities and no longer are a threat.

 

The main goal of the studies under the LIFE project “Egyptian Vulture New LIFE” is to identify the scale and significance of impacts of chemicals used in agriculture in the Balkan countries (in particular Bulgaria, FYR of Macedonia and Albania) as poisoning agents to the Egyptian Vulture and to propose adequate response strategy to this impact.

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