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. One of them is the LIFE project Return of the Neophron, that targets the endangered and fast declining Egyptian vulture population in the Balkans. In the Balkan Peninsula, the population has declined from over 500 pairs in the 80es to less than 80 pairs currently (Velevski et al. 2015).
It is important to assess regularly and thoroughly the response of the population to conservation measures, and in a new report the project team collated the reasons for breeding failures in the steeply declining population of Egyptian vulture in Bulgaria and Greece (holding ca. 50% of the Balkan population of the species)
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 within the project.
The average percentage of unsuccessful pairs per year was 38% (n = 366 breeding attempts), slightly lower in Bulgaria (37%) than in Greece (48%). More than half (54%) of unsuccessful pairs (n = 132) did not initiate breeding at all, while 46% failed in different stages of the breeding period.
In more than half (54%, n = 61) of the cases of breeding failure the causes remained unknown. In the relatively few cases where there was strong evidence (n = 16) or suspected (n = 12) causes for breeding failure, natural causes were much more frequent than human-induced causes, and ca. 60% of the failures occurred during the incubation stage.
Lack of experience in pairs (25%), predation (25%), persecution (19%), disease (12.5%), poisoning (12.5%) and weather conditions (6%) were the registered causes of breeding failure.
You can download the report below.