Quest for Egyptian vultures in Albania 2017

12.05.2017
The monitoring of Egyptian vulture breeding territories in Albania was implemented in April 2017 by the international team of BSPB, HOS and PPNEA.© Dimitar Gradinarov

To continue the tradition from previous years (e.g see 2012, 2013 and 2014), in April 2017 an international research team composed by members of the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB/BirdLife Bulgaria), the Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS / BirdLife Greece) and the Association of Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania (PPNEA), aimed its efforts to monitor the status of the Egyptian vulture breeding population in Albania.

In total, 26 of the species’ breeding territories known in the last 15 years were visited. Out of them, 10 territories were confirmed to be still occupied (7 pairs and 3 single territorial birds were observed). These are good news as it indicates that the population in the country the last 5 years seems to be stable. In comparison, 11 territories were found active 10 years ago - in 2007 (Ben Hallman, unpubl. data), 7 in 2012, 9 in 2013 and 6 in 2014 (monitoring was not complete this year).

The typical habitat of the Egyptian vulture in Albania consists of traditional rural landscapes with extensive livestock grazing (mainly sheep and goats) and small-scale farming practices. In those areas where Egyptian vultures were present, the researchers noticed that there was plenty of food available (livestock, tortoises and other wildlife). Semi-structured questionnaires were used to collect additional information from the local people about the presence of the species, threats and its cultural value in the visited regions (ca. 40 interviewed people). Poisoning, illegal killing, and electrocution on dangerous poles were identified as the most serious threats for the species in the country. The team also used every opportunity to raise public awareness in the areas it visited about the status and threats of the Egyptian vulture.

Still sheltering amazing and biodiversity rich landscapes, it is not by chance that Albania is described as “the Land of Eagles”. © Dimitar Gradinarov
In Albania, as well as in Western Greece, a local legend says that a Cuckoo brings the spring riding on the back of an Egyptian vulture, thus prompting its local name – “Cuckoo’s horse”. With some 10 pairs, the country is one of the last shelters of the species in the Balkans. © Dimitar Gradinarov
In total, 26 of the Egyptian vulture territories known over the last 15 years were visited. Out of these, 10 territories were confirmed to be still active (7 pairs and 3 single territorial birds were observed). © Dimitar Gradinarov
To cross or not to cross: that is the question. © Dimitar Gradinarov
The typical habitat of the Egyptian vulture in Albania consists of traditional rural landscapes with extensive livestock grazing (mainly sheep and goats) and small-scale farming practices.© Dimitar Gradinarov
There is plenty of available food in the areas where Egyptian vultures were found. © Dimitar Gradinarov
Local off-road traffic control ;) © Dimitar Gradinarov
Local people provided valuable information about the threats for the species in the area and other relevant information. © Dimitar Gradinarov
Local communities respect the Egyptian vulture and realize its important role in the nature. © Dimitar Gradinarov
The team used every opportunity to raise public awareness about the status and threats of the species. Kids are always curious of our work and were a target group for communication, considering the future of surveyed areas depends on them. © Dimitar Gradinarov
Apart of poisoning and illegal killing, the electrocution on dangerous poles was identified as one of the most serious threats for the species in Albania. © Dimitar Gradinarov
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