Electrocution is one of the main threats for the steeply declining Balkan population of the Egyptian vulture


Electrocution was identified as one of the main threats for the steeply declining Balkan population of the Egyptian vulture. To mitigate the threat, mapping and risk assessment of electricity pylons were conducted in active and recent breeding territories of the species in Bulgaria (29) and Greece (11) in the frame of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron”. The study area included ten Special Protection Areas in Bulgaria and three in Greece. The fieldwork was carried out in 2012 and 2013 outside the breeding season (October – March). Protocol for data collection and algorithm for the risk assessment were developed.

All electricity pylons in the medium voltage (20 kW) electricity network within a buffer of 5 km around targeted Egyptian vulture nests were mapped – in total 9,496 pylons along more than 1,000 km power lines (7,071 pylons along more than 700 km power lines in Bulgaria and 2,425 pylons in Greece along more than 200 km power lines). As an added value, 4,643 pylons were mapped in the wintering grounds in Africa and the risk to birds from electrocution was assessed.

A total of 112 dead birds were found under the mapped pylons and power lines in Bulgaria, of which 76% were victims of electrocution and 24% of collision. There was only one case of a subadult Egyptian vulture found electrocuted within the project area. The 112 carcasses found belonged to the following species: White and Black stork (47%), Golden eagle, Short-toed eagle, Common buzzard, Goshawk, Sparrowhawk, Commom kestrel (18%), Passeriformes (25%, out of which corvids 11%), Tawny owl and Eagle owl (4%), other (6%). No electrocuted birds were found in Greece.

Risk of electrocution was assessed for all mapped pylons and sensitivity maps were produced. A total of 5,572 pylons were identified as critically dangerous to birds (4,023 in BG and 1,549 in GR) based on the type of the pylon. Additional prioritizing of the pylons for the aim of insulation was made considering also landscape cover and distance to the nest. Thus, we identified 1,283 dangerous pylons in Bulgaria and 1,524 in Greece which are recommended for insulation in the near future. As an added value, 3,728 pylons were identified as dangerous based on their construction in one of the main congregation sites of the species in Eastern Africa.

The full report could be found here.


LIFE+ project The Return of the Neophron, electricity pylons, report