International alliance to Zagori, Epirus for the Egyptian vulture, against poison baits

22.06.2015
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Egyptian vulture populations in the Balkans have experienced a rapid decline in the last decades and all evidence points to one direction: poison baits. Although poison baits were once legally used by the authorities to control predators like the wolf, have been banned since 1980 in all Balkan countries, due to their impact on vulture populations. However, this harmful practice (illegally) carries on in many rural areas and thus continues to threat the last surviving Egyptian vultures in Greece and the rest of the Balkans.

Environmental NGOs along the Balkans work to stop this practice, but it is a complex socioeconomic issue with multiple aspects to be addressed. Hence, exchange of knowledge and experience is necessary to achieve this difficult target.

For this reason, the Hellenic Ornithological Society, together with WWF-Greece and the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) organised a workshop in Papingo (Zagori, Epirus), on the 25-26th of May. The workshop, entitled “The illegal use of poison baits in the Balkans. Conservation problems and solutions” aimed to promote the exchange of the existing know-how on the illegal use of poison baits among Balkan countries, as well as to increase the awareness on this huge conservation problem among the Greek authorities. Representatives from seven countries from the Balkans and Europe attended the workshop, together with representatives from several relevant Greek public authorities such as local Forestry Services and Directorates, local Municipalities, Environmental Directorates, Management Authorities of local protected areas, Hunting Associations, NGOs etc.

The workshop provided the opportunity for all these stakeholder groups to come together, learn about the consequences of the use of poison baits and discuss openly about the motives and constraints that motivate this illegal practice and suggest possible solutions. The workshop participants also had the chance to see in action the Antipoison Dog Units that are operating in the framework of the LIFE+ Project “The return of the Neophron” in the areas of Meteora and Dadia, and that so successfully manage to detect and consequently remove poison baits from the Egyptian vultures’ habitat.

The main outcomes of the workshop were the agreement that this practice must be abandoned in order to save the last Egyptian vultures in the Balkans and the need of a commitment from the public authorities to actively fight against the use of poison.

All stakeholder groups must work hand in hand to successfully reach the long-term goal of eradicating this terrible threat from our countryside.  

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