Spectacular decline of 7 % per year of the Egyptian Vultures’ population in Eastern Europe

12.02.2015
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© Iordan Hristov

New scientific publication on the status of the Balkan population of the Egyptian Vulture over the last 30 years has published in Bird Conservation International.

A large group of collaborators from Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia, Albania, Turkey, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia compiled all survey data from the Balkan Peninsula from 1980 until 2013. The team found that the population had declined from almost 600 pairs in 1980 to less than 100 pairs in 2013 – a decline of about 7% per year!

During this period, Egyptian Vultures not only declined in numbers, they also disappeared from entire regions and countries. The documented declines are however just the tail end of a decline that began many decades ago – before anybody tried to systematically count vultures. Egyptian Vultures no longer occur in the Ukraine, Romania, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, or Serbia, and the few remaining pairs in Greece and Albania are struggling to hold on.

A LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron” in Bulgaria and Greece is currently trying to understand the causes of population declines. Because Egyptian Vultures migrate to Africa every year, they are exposed to a wide variety of threats both in Europe, along the flyway, and in Africa. Many birds get killed accidentally by consuming poisoned carcasses that were intended for other animals, by landing on poorly insulated power lines that electrocute birds, or by being shot for pleasure or market trade in Africa. Some progress has been made in the project, for example a dangerous power line in Sudan, which killed hundreds of vultures over decades, has recently been disconnected.

The publication is entitled: “Population decline and range contraction of the Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus in the Balkan Peninsula”.

Authors: METODIJA VELEVSKI, STOYAN C. NIKOLOV, BEN HALLMANN, VLADIMIR DOBREV, LAVRENTIS SIDIROPOULOS, VICTORIA SARAVIA, RIGAS TSIAKIRIS, VOLEN ARKUMAREV, ANTONIA GALANAKI, THEODOROS KOMINOS, KALLIOPI STARA, ELZBIETA KRET, BRATISLAV GRUBA Č, EMANUEL LISI Č ANEC, THANOS KASTRITIS, DIMITRIS VAVYLIS, MIRJAN TOPI, BLEDI HOXHA and STEFFEN OPPEL.

Find the publication here.

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