The Egyptian vulture is Europe’s most threatened vulture species – classified as “Endangered” at global level. While the three others European vulture species are registering positive trends across Europe, Egyptian vultures still continue to decline in most regions in the continent (and elsewhere).
A number of projects have been trying to stop this decline by targeting direct conservation actions on this species. Among the actions being implemented, guarding of nests against disturbance and nest-robbing, and supplementary feeding of breeding pairs, are common in many projects - for example they have been included in the LIFE project the Return of the Neophron, that targets the endangered and fast declining Egyptian vulture population in the Balkans.
It is important though to assess regularly and thoroughly the effectiveness of conservation measures. In this paper the authors did just that for some conservation actions, using estimates of seasonal adult survival from observations of unmarked individuals.
They found little evidence that nest guarding and supplementary feeding increased breeding success or adult survival. The authors suggest that nest guarding and supplementary feeding in the Balkans failed to halt on-going population declines, mostly because the beneficial effects are insufficient to offset the loss of adult birds due to other causes, notably because of poisoning.
In scenarios and contexts where adult mortality is high through continued and widespread presence of major threats, these conservation tools may be insufficient to have a demographic impact on the population.
You can download the paper below.
Photo: Bruno Berthémy/VCF