Expedition in Ethiopia revealed important information about the wintering population of the Egyptian vulture


In January 2019, a joint expedition of BSPB, RSPB, BirdLife Africa, EWNHS, SCF, NCF and APLORI, under the support of the local experts and authorities, was held in Ethiopia under the frame of the Egyptian vulture New LIFE project with three main objectives: (1) to monitor the numbers of Egyptian vultures in the wintering congregation site in Afar and small part of Oromia region; (2) to collect evidence on the major threats (poisoning, electrocution/collision, and direct persecution) which to inform adequate conservation measures; (3) deploy transmitters on Egyptian vultures in their wintering grounds.


During the survey 1,644 Egyptian vultures were counted to roost in the studied area. This is the highest number recorded so far, compared to previous surveys (2009, 2010 and 2013), which is a very good sign in terms of the status of the wintering population of the species.


Electrocution and collision with energy infrastructure is among the major suspected mortality causes for the Egyptian vulture in its wintering grounds.  The team inspected over 180 km of dangerous power lines (medium and low voltage) for electrocution and collision victims and found a total of 42 carcasses of birds, including 6 Egyptian Vultures and 9 other vultures. Most of the victims were concentrated along killer power lines in the areas of Metehara and Logia.


Based on the information collected from the authorities and local stakeholders, non-intentional or intentional poisoning (including with veterinary medical products toxic for vultures) does not seem to be a systematic serious threat for the Egyptian and other vultures in the studied area, neither the direct persecution. However, further investigation will be needed especially repoisoning as an adult individual was found at a rubbish dump and the autopsy of the bird suggests intoxication with heavy metals.


The team trapped and tagged with GPS-GSM transmitters seven Egyptian vultures - 2 adults + 5 immatures in the rubbish dumps in Metehara and Logya. Everyone can follow their daily movements via the project website.



The LIFE project "Egyptian Vulture New LIFE” (LIFE16 NAT/BG/000874) brings together institutions and organizations from 14 countries spanning the Balkans, Middle East and Africa and is implemented with the financial support of the EU LIFE Programme. The Coordinating Beneficiary is the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds / BirdLife Bulgaria (BSPB). Associated Beneficiaries are:  Hellenic Ornithological Society / BirdLife Greece (HOS),  WWF Greece, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds / BirdLife UK (RSPB), Doğa Derneği / BirdLife Turkey (DD), regional offices of BirdLife International in Africa and Middle East, A.P. Leventis Ornithological and Research Institute (APLORI), CMS Raptors MoU, Green Balkans.

LIFE project Egyptian vulture New LIFE, Ethiopia