Gradinarov, D. & Difova, E. 2014. Use of pesticides, chemicals and poisons in the region of Rusenski Lom Nature Park (Lomovete SPA). Case study report under action A3 of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron” (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152). BSPB, Sofia. 16 p. [PDF]
Summary: Some 10 years ago, there were about 8 pairs of Egyptian vultures breeding in the the Rusenski Lom Nature Park (Lomovete Natura 2000 Special Protection Area). In 2012 there were only two breeding pairs which have extinct till 2014. Obviously, a systematic threat exists in the area. In the spring of 2014 a BSPB team visited the site to collect evidences and to evaluate the magnitude of the problem.The study revealed that the widespread improper use of treated seeds with plant protection, insecticides and unauthorized disposal of packaging of products for plant protection (contrary to the requirements of safety) on one hand, and the illegal poisoning on the other hand represents a very serious problem at local (and probably at national) level. These practices are likely to be widespread throughout the country, and seem to be a significant treat to many species with declining populations, both common species and endangered species.
Dobrev, V., Boev, Z., Oppel, S., Arkumarev, V., Dobrev, D., Kret, E., Vavylis, D., Saravia, V., T., Bounas, A. & Nikolov, S.C. 2015. Diet of the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) in Bulgaria and Greece (2005-2013). Technical report under action A5 of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron” (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152). BSPB, Sofia. 28 p. [PDF]
Summary: In Eastern Europe the Egyptian vulture population is declining more rapidly than elsewhere but there is little information on diet composition and the relationship between diet and demographic parameters to inform conservation management. The technical report “Diet of the Egyptian vulture (neophron percnopterus) in Bulgaria and Greece” examines whether Egyptian vulture population decline on the Balkan Peninsula may have been associated with dietary changes that affected breeding productivity by monitoring breeding success and collecting dietary remains from 51 breeding territories with a total of 63 different nest sites in the period 2005–2013.
Skartsi Th., Dobrev V., Oppel S., Kafetzis A., Kret E., Karampatsa R., Saravia V., Bounas T., Vavylis D., SidiropoulosL., Arkumarev V., Dyulgerova S. and Nikolov S. C. 2014. Assessment of the illegal use of poison in Natura 2000 sites for the Egyptian Vulture in Greece and Bulgaria during the period 2003-2012. Technical report under action A3 of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron” (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152). WWF Greece, Athens. 75 p. [PDF]
Summary: A study on the illegal use of poison baits in Greece and Bulgaria was conducted in the frames of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron”. Data were collected for the period 2003-2013 by face-to-face interviews with land users and agencies in all 27 project sites. In Greece, the use of poisoned baits was confirmed by 62.67% of the land users and 80.91% of the agencies, while in Bulgaria - by 7.63% of the land users and 27.91% of the agencies (however, it should be considered that the Bulgarian interviewees discussed the non-intentional poisoning mainly in the light of intensive use of pesticides and rodenticides - a legal action but with negative impact on wild mammals and vultures). The main social groups identified as responsible for the use of poison baits in Greece were hunters, livestock breeders and village/urban residents, and for Bulgaria - farmers and livestock breeders. The main targeted animals for poisoning were dogs, foxes and wolves for Greece, and insects and rodents for Bulgaria. The main types of used poisoned baits used to kill the damaging animals in Greece were a piece of meat with pesticides and capsules with cyanides. A wide range of measures against illegal use of poison is proposed and urgent measures to control the illegal use of poisons should be undertaken in both countries where the last remaining Egyptian vultures still exist.
Bounas A. 2015. Creating supplementary feeding stations for the conservation of Egyptian Vulture in Greece.Technical report under action C3 of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron” (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152). Hellenic Ornithological Society, Athens, Greece. 20 р. [PDF]
Summary:The provision of safe and high quality food in specific, controlled places - also known as supplementary feeding - is considered to be a key management tool for the conservation of scavenger bird populations. It’s believed that it can benefit the birds, increasing their survival rates as well as reducing the risk of poisoning. With Egyptian Vulture populations constantly declining, supplementary feeding stations could be used as an immediate support of the remaining individuals. The current technical report is based on a review of the existing literature and presents a set of guidelines for the establishment of supplementary feeding stations in Greece focusing on increasing their conservation potential for the Egyptian Vulture, in case they are used as an emergency conservation measure as well as for long-term management.
Nikolov S. 2014. ‘PASCHALIS’ CASE, INTEGRATED REPORT (VER. 140604) [PDF]
Summary: Paschalis is a juvenile Egyptian Vulture hatched in 2013 in Greece and tagged with satellite transmitter under the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron”. The bird flew successfully to the wintering grounds and settled in southern Niger. On 27.2.2014 last signal from the bird into the wild was received from a site at about 115 km NE of Zinder (about 140 km from the border with Nigeria) and the next signals were from a house in the near village. Several days later, the transmitter was exported to Nigeria. LIFE project partners initiated an investigation on the case thanks to collaboration with the Sahara Conservation Fund in Niger and the A. P. Leventis Ornithological Research Institute in Nigeria. The investigation revealed that Paschalis was killed by a traditional vulture hunter coming regularly from Nigeria. Different level conservation approaches are listed to mitigate the problem with illegal vulture trade in Nigeria and Niger, amongst which an integrated international conservation strategy is on central long-term place.
Andevski, J. & Delgado, I. Z. 2015. Toxicological and parasitological analysis of Egyptian vulture samples from Bulgaria and Greece. Technical report under action A1 of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron” (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152). VCF & CAD, Spain. 29 p. [PDF]
Summary: Poor health condition resulting from the use of pesticides, antibiotics and other veterinary products, contamination with heavy metals and different diseases, was suspected as one of the main drivers for the decline of the Balkan population of Egyptian vulture in the breeding grounds. To understand more on this critical issue, a total of 182 samples (36 blood samples for toxicology, and 146 samples from throat, cloaca, and eye for pathogen analysis) from a total of 49 individuals (mainly fledglings) collected in 2012-2013 from different Egyptian Vulture territories from Bulgaria and Greece were analysed. The analyses performed suggest that the juveniles sampled were in good health condition during the period of sampling – not affected by any pathogen or toxic substances. While this does not allow us to extrapolate to the whole of the Balkans, and for other periods of time, it suggests that wildlife disease and cumulative intoxication with heavy metals (including lead), and with toxic compounds from agriculture or veterinarian practices may not be a significant threat to juvenile Egyptian Vultures in Bulgaria and Greece.
Kret, E., Vavylis, D., Saravia, V. & Ntemiri, Κ. 2015. Poison bait detection with specially trained dogs in Thrace and Central Greece, Annual report 2014. Technical report under action C1 of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron” (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152). Hellenic Ornithological Society & WWF-Greece, Athens. 41 p. PDF
Summary: The poisoned baits are considered the main threat and cause of death of Egyptian vulture. In the frame of the project, in March 2014 in Central Greece and Thrace two anti-poison dog units were created. Their goal is a control and timely removal from the countryside poison baits and animals that might cause additional poisoning. The Anti-poison dog units patrolled the countryside, in areas regularly used by Egyptian vultures and other two vulture species, the griffon and black vulture. Priority was given to patrols in areas where poison events had been recorded in the recent past or new incidents had been notified by forestry service, management bodies of national parks and citizens. In 2014, 53 patrols in Central Greece and 35 in Thrace were conducted, spread over 78 days. In total, in 19 patrols 26 dead animals were found and identified as poisoned. The most commonly poisoned species was the dog (hunting or/and shepherd dog) with 21 fatalities (80% of total findings) followed by the fox with 4 fatalities (15% of total findings). In some events, the poison baits were detected, which in most cases was a piece of meat with poison. The main drivers for the use of poison baits were: predator extermination, stray dog population control and human conflicts between shepherds or/and hunters. Toxicological analysis revealed three pesticide’s active substances: Endosulfan, Carbofuran (both banned in Greece) and Methomyl. The anti-poison dog units proved to be an innovative and effective preventive action that also proves the extent of illegal use of poison baits. Many scavengers, including Egyptian vultures, were potentially saved from a certain death.
Saravia, V., Kret, E., Dobrev, V. & Nikolov S. C. 2016. Assessment of mortality causes for the Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) in Bulgaria and Greece (1997-2015). Fact sheet under action A1 of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron” (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152). HOS, Athens. 9 p. [PDF]
Summary: Since 1997, a total of 73 dead Egyptian Vultures have been recorded, out of which in 61 cases the reason of death has been confirmed or the source considered reliable. Human-induced reasons of death were more frequent (57%) than natural reasons (18%). The most frequent humaninduced reason of death was poisoning (86%) followed by direct persecution (8%) and electrocution (6%), while the most frequent natural causes of death were predation (36%) and bad health condition (27%). Recent situation (2012-2015) shows again higher frequency of human-induced mortality (39%) compared to natural causes (29%). However, the ratio of natural mortality causes seems to be relatively higher than in the past period (since 1997), probably because of more intensive nest monitoring allowing for the detection of dead juveniles in the nest. Since 1997, most of the individuals found dead were adults (61%), followed by mortality in the nest (hatchlings and fledglings, in total of 19%) and juveniles (15%). Overall analysis (1997 – 2015) by country (Bulgaria vs Greece) indicates similar rates of mortality causes (mainly poisoning, with 15 dead individuals in each country), although there seems to be more evidence of direct persecution in Bulgaria with three known cases, whereas there are none in Greece. Analysis of data from recent time (2012 – 2015) shows a larger amount of poisoning cases in Greece (seven in Greece but only two in Bulgaria, but more cases of direct persecution and electrocution in Bulgaria (two in Bulgaria, none in Greece).
Kret, E., Saravia, V., Dobrev, V., Popgeorgiev & Nikolov S. C. 2016. Assessment of major threats in Natura 2000 sites for the Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) in Bulgaria and Greece (2012-2015). Fact sheet under action A3 of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron” (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152). WWF Greece, Athens. 8 p. [PDF]
Summary: The report aimes to assess the major threats for the Egyptian vulture in all 27 project sites of the NATURA 2000 network, and also to evaluate the effect of the project on the mitigation of the species’ major threats. In total nine threats for the Egyptian vulture were identified as the most significant in the project sites. The most frequent and severe threat was illegal poisoning present in 26 of the 27 studied NATURA 2000 sites (96%). Food shortage (i.e. decrease of livestock and closing dump sites) was considered the second most frequent threat, identified in 12 SPAs (44%), followed by disturbance, in 10 SPAs (37%). Habitat heterogeneity loss, in 9 SPAs (33%) and wind farms, in 2 SPAs (7%) were considered as major threats only in Greek project sites, while illegal shooting identified in 8 SPAs (30%) and nest robbing, in 6 SPAs (22%) were recognized as major threats mainly in Bulgaria.
Dobrev, V., Kret, E., Skartsi, T., Saravia, V., Bounas, A., Oppel, S. & Nikolov, S.C. 2016. Individual supplementary feeding of the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) in Bulgaria and Greece (2012-2015). Technical report under action C4 of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron” (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152). BSPB, Sofia. 12p [PDF]
Summary: The report presents the following results in relation to individual supplementary feeding of Egyptian vulture pairs in Bulgaria and Greece:
• An average of 16 pairs regularly received safe food during the breeding season each year;
• The average productivity in 2014 and 2015 was higher than the before project baseline and compared to the average productivity during the first two years of project implementation – 2012 and 2013.
• The maximum number of food deliveries reached 107 per year just for one pair.
• Food was delivered to specially selected places or close to the nest.
• Average amount of safe food provided per nest was 62 kg per year.
• About 15 local collaborators each year helped for the implementation of this action.
Individual supplementary feeding is not advisable in cases when targeted pairs have many neighboring competitors around such as ravens and griffon vultures. A change in the feeding place is an option to be considered. Collection of data about how often the birds eat and how much of the food provided they consume is essential to study some aspects of their biology such as diet, productivity and behaviour.
Dobrev, V., Kret, E., Skartsi, T., Saravia, V., Bounas, A., Oppel, S. & Nikolov, S.C. 2016. Nest-guarding of the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) in Bulgaria and Greece (2012-2015). Technical report under action C5 of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron” (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152). BSPB, Sofia. 13 p. [PDF]
Summary: The nest guarding programme implemented under the project “The Return of the Neophron” aimed to prevent direct threats to Egyptian vulture nests such as disturbance, nest robbing and persecution, and as added value, to collect data on the biology and ecology of the species. During the implementation of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron”, the following results in relation to nest guarding of Egyptian vultures in Bulgaria and Greece were achieved:
• In average 15 pairs (or 50% of the pairs with clutch) in Bulgaria and Greece were guarded annualy between 2012 and 2015;
• The project ensured personal guard in average of 69% of the chicks since 2012;
• 7 juveniles were saved by nest guardians between 2012 and 2015, improving species productivity with 5.7%;
• 6 fatal disturbances of breeding Egyptian vultures were prevented;
• More than 30 people were involved in the nest guarding programme each year since 2012, including many volunteers from foreign countries (e.g. Lithuania, Canada, USA, Rumania, Germany, etc.).
Méndez, M., Godoy, J. A. & Donázar, J.A. 2015. Genetic analysis of the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) in the Balkans and Turkey. Technical report under action A1 of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron” (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152). Doñana Biological Station, CSIC, Spain. 20 p. [PDF]
Summary: A genetic study of the Balkan and Turkish Egyptian vulture populations was conducted to assess the contemporary and past genetic patterns and better calibrate the impact of genetic factors on population viability. Samples were collected from 42 contemporary (2010 – 2013) and 18 museum specimens (dated as far back as 1853 and distributed throughout the 19th and 20th centuries) in Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. Obtained results support that Balkan population is differentiating from the historical one more quickly than the Turkish population. Given this, it would be feasible to reinforce the Balkan population with birds from Turkey, but this type of active management cannot be approached without addressing the main causes of population decline, and taking into account potential negative effects associated with the movement of animals between isolated breeding nuclei. Under this scenario, and not only due to genetic constraints but also demographic factors, the maintenance of the Balkan population seems to be extremely precarious and extinction may be unavoidable within a few decades without urgent conservation measures undertaken to stop the main limiting factors associated with non-natural mortality and negative effects of genetic drift. Thus, management programs should include the reinforcement of the Balkan population and systematic genetic monitoring in order to avoid inbreeding depression, to maximize the genetic diversity and thereby, to increase the long-term population viability.
Vavylis, D., Kret, D., Saravia, V. & Ntemiti, K. 2016. Poison bait detection with specially trained dogs in Thrace and Central Greece, Annual report 2015. Technical report under action C1 of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron” (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152). Hellenic Ornithological Society & WWF-Greece, Athens. 48 p. [PDF - in Greek with EN summary]
Summary: In 2015, the second year of operation of the Canine Teams, 46 patrols were carried out in Central Greece and 21 in Thrace in 64 days and 171 km were covered by the handlers. Totally, 39 dead animals were found poisoned throughout the course of 16 patrols. The most common species found poisoned was the dog (shepherd and/or hunting dogs), with a total number of 24 dead individuals (61.6% of the findings), followed by the fox with 9 dead individuals (23.1% of the findings). Additionally 2 Griffon Vultures, 2 Wolves and 2 domestic cats were found poisoned (respectively 5.1% of the findings). In total, 48 poison baits were found (usually a piece of poisoned meat, but also wax “capsules” containing animal fat and a toxic substance were found in other several occasions). The main suspected reasons for the use of poison baits were the following: fox or wolf extermination, stray dogs control and personal disputes between shepherds and/or hunters.
Dobrev, V., Kafetzis, A., Skartsi, T., Saravia, V., Bounas, A., Sidiropoulos, L., Oppel, S., Manolopoulos, A., Popgeorgiev, G. & Nikolov, S.C. 2016. Identifying potentially dangerous electricity infrastructure to Balkan population of Egyptian vulture and mitigation measures.Technical report under action A6 of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron” (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152). BSPB, Sofia. 18 p. [PDF]
Summary: Electrocution was identified as one of the main threats for the steeply declining Balkan population of the Egyptian vulture. To mitigate the threat by providing relevant information for insulation of the most dangerous pylons for vultures, 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 2012 and 2013. 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). 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) and out of them 1,283 pylons in Bulgaria and 1,524 pylons in Greece are strongly recommended for insulation in the near future. Additionally, 4,643 pylons were mapped in one of the main congregation sites of the species in Eastern Africa and out of them 3,728 pylons were identified as dangerous to birds.
Dobrev, V., Kret, E., , Skartsi, T., Saravia, V., T., Bounas, Vavylis, D., A., Oppel, S. & Nikolov, S.C. 2016. Reasons for the breeding failures of the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) in Bulgaria and Greece (2006-2015). Technical report under action A1 of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron” (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152). BSPB, Sofia. 18 p. [PDF]
Summary: The study was conducted in the period 2006-2015 for Bulgaria and 2011-2015 for Greece based on the observations compiled through the implementation of the monitoring activities of Egyptian vulture breeding territories in both countries, the nest guarding programme and the use of camera devices (trail cameras) installed in selected nests.
The average percentage of unsuccessful pairs per year in Bulgaria and Greece was 38% (n = 366 breeding attempts), with 37% per year for Bulgaria (for a period of 10 years) and 48% for Greece (for a period of 5 years). In total, 54% of unsuccessful pairs (n = 132) did not initiate breeding attempt at all, while 46% initiated a breeding attempt but failed in different stages of the breeding period. In 54% (n = 61) reasons for breeding failure remained unknown, for 26 % the reason for breeding failure was evidenced, and for 20% the reason was suspected based on expert’s opinion. For both evidenced (n = 16) and suspected (n = 12) causes for breeding failure, natural causes were much more frequent than human-induced causes. In the case of known causes of breeding failure (n = 16), natural drivers were represented by lack of experience in pairs (25%), predation (25%), diseases (12.5%) and weather conditions (6%), while in the case of human-induced causes they were represented by persecution (19%; registered only in Bulgaria and aiming at nest robbing and taxidermy) and poisoning (12.5%). In terms of the period, ca. 60% of the failures occur during incubation stage. In Bulgaria (2006-2015), the lack of experience in pairs was the most frequent natural cause (40%, n = 10), followed by diseases (20%) and bad weather conditions (10%), while persecution (30%) was the most frequent human-induced cause for breeding failure. In Greece (2011-2015), most of the evidence collected (67%; n = 6) was related to natural causes for breeding failure (predation of chicks), while only 33% referred to human-induced causes (mainly poisoning of adults).
Dobrev, V., Oppel, S., Arkumarev, V., Saravia, V., Bounas, A, Manolopoulos, A., Kret, E., Popgeorgiev, G.S. & Nikolov, S.C. 2016. Habitat of the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) in the Bulgaria and Greece (2003-2014). Technical report under action A5 of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron” (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152). BSPB, Sofia. 41p. [PDF]
Summary: Тhe report includes information from 87 different territories and breeding performance of 376 territorial pairs between 2003 – 2014, with an overall territory occupancy rate of 69% and a mean productivity of 0.80 fledglings per occupied territory. The report examines which of 48 different environmental variables were most influential in explaining variation in territory occupancy and breeding success using algorithmic random forest models. Territory occupancy is best explained by food availability, geographic structure, and nesting opportunities, while breeding success is best explained by the number of adjacent villages, topography, and nesting opportunities.
Additionally in several buffer zones (1 km, 5 km and 30 km) the physical characteristics of 110 nests in 84 Egyptian vulture territories in Bulgaria and Greece are investigated, and a GIS tools are used to describe the landscape features and composition in Egyptian vulture territories. 74% of the Egyptian vulture nests are situated in caves while only 26% are situated on cliff ledges, and the majority of the nests are up to 10 m in height. The mean height of the cliffs that the species occupy is 32.05m and can range between 6m and 340m in height. Additionally the length of the breeding cliffs varies from 5m to 5300 m with a mean length of 371.09 m. The landscape composition consists of variety of habitats but mostly forests, arable lands and pastures, both in Bulgaria and Greece. The report recommends a complex management aiming at adoption of large-scale landscape conservation programs that retain or restore historical small-scale farming practices which may benefit vultures and other biodiversity.
Ntemiri, K., & Saravia, V. 2016. The status of the illegal use of poison baits in Greece. 2012-2015. Technical report under action C1 of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron” (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152) Hellenic Ornithological Society, Athens, 39 p. [PDF]
Summary: The report describes the characteristics of the illegal practice of use of poison baits in Greece based on the analysis of the data recorded by the Antipoison Task Force during the period 2012-2015, while proposing different actions that could help address the problem more efficiently. Despite being banned since 1993, the use of poison baits is a common practice in Greek rural areas threatening with extinction a long list of protected species. The analysis of the poisoning events recorded by the Antipoison Task Force in its data base - 163 events in the period 2012-2015, aims to shed some light on the consequences, reasons and factors driving this practice. The toxicological analyses carried out show that there's a wide range of chemical substances used, usually pesticides legal or banned. Scavenger bird species are the wildlife group most affected by the use of poison baits (30% of all poisoned animals), however working dogs are the most affected group of animals as a whole (39%).
Bougain, C. & Oppel, S. 2016. Identification of important migration concentration areas of Egyptian vultures Neophron percnopterus from the Balkan population tracked by satellite telemetry. Training report under action A2 of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron” (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152). BSPB & University of Strasbourg, Strasbourg. 22 p. [PDF]
Summary: Avian scavengers are among the most threatened groups of birds around the world but they are very poorly protected. In Europe, the most endangered vulture species is the Egyptian vulture Neophron percnopterus, the only one migrating long distances to winter in Africa. The Iberian population has been intensively studied in the last years and their migration routes and wintering areas have been understood. Conversely, little is known about the Balkan population which has to fly a detour to avoid crossing the Mediterranean that may lead to areas where migrating birds concentrate. To identify the most important migration hotspots (i.e. where birds concentrate at roosting areas, bottlenecks and flight paths overlap in space), telemetry data from 14 Egyptian vultures from the Balkan population were analysed. Between 2010 and 2016, in total of 11,251 locations from immatures and adults were obtained that described different migration routes between autumn and spring. Because of the natural barrier, the birds have to fly a detour creating bottlenecks at the northern (autumn) and the southern (spring) margin of the Mediterranean Sea. Thus, the Egyptian vultures from the Balkans are flying longer and more tortuous migration routes than the birds from the Iberian population. The most important bottleneck was positioned in the Gulf of Iskenderun (South Turkey) and included more than 70 % of all the migrations. The second one was located around Suez in Egypt with exactly 70 % of the migrations passing through the area. The main concentration area was located in central Anatolia around Beypazari (one of the key breeding areas for the species in Turkey). Threats (e.g. wind-farms) were localized in important concentration areas but more research on the ground is needed to assess and mitigate them along the flyway of the Egyptian vultures.
Vavylis, D., Kret, D., Saravia, V. & Ntemiri, K. 2016. Poison bait detection with specially trained dogs in Thrace and Central Greece, Annual report 2016 & Summary Report of 2014-2016. Technical report under action C1 of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron” (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152). Hellenic Ornithological Society & WWF-Greece, Athens. 77 p. [PDF - in Greek with EN summary]
In 2016, the third year of operation of the CT, 40 patrols were carried out in Central Greece and 12 in Thrace and 105 km were covered by the handlers. Totally, 25 dead animals were found poisoned throughout the course of 17 patrols. The most commonly found species was the dog (shepherd, hunting and/or feral dogs), with a total number of 13 dead individuals (52% of the findings), followed by the fox (Vulpes vulpes) with seven dead individuals (28% of the findings). Additionally three Beech Martens (Martes foina), two Wolves (Canis lupus) were found poisoned. In total, 20 poison baits were found (a piece of poisoned meat in some cases, a whole carcass in some other cases while in others, it was a sophisticated wax “capsule” made of animal fat containing a toxic substance). The main suspected reasons for the use of poison baits – based on the evidences found and/or the declarations of the affected parties -, were the following: fox or wolf extermination, stray dogs control and personal disputes between shepherds and/or hunters.
Oppel, S., Dobrev, V., Saravia, V., Kret, E. & Nikolov S. C. 2016. Fate of satellite tracked Egyptian Vultures (Neophron percnopterus) in the Balkans (2010-2016).. Fact sheet under action A2 of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron” (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152). RSPB, Cambridge. 2 p. [PDF]
This study aimed to assess the mortality causes for the Balkan population of Egyptian Vulture along the flyway based on telemetry data. Since 2010, 28 individual Egyptian Vultures have been tracked with satellite transmitters from the Balkans, of which 23 were juvenile and 5 were adult birds.By mid-October 2016, 87.5% of the juveniles had died (n = 21 birds), and 40% of the adult birds (n = 2). The average time that tagged juveniles survived was 297 days (range 7 – 1516 days), while it was 462 days for adult birds (range 281 – 642 days). Note that birds that are still alive are excluded from these metrics. For the two recorded adult mortalities, one bird was poisoned in Greece, the other bird died of unknown causes in Ethiopia 1.5 years after being tagged in Greece. Among the juvenile mortalities, the leading cause of death was poor navigation leading to drowning in the Mediterranean Sea (n = 9, 43% of mortalities). Six juvenile birds died of unknown causes (29%), and one bird (5%) was likely predated by a natural predator (eagle). For two birds (10%) there was unequivocal evidence that the birds had been shot by humans either for market trade in Nigeria or for another reason, and one further bird was likely to have been shot in Sudan.