The results of the exhaustive breeding census of Egyptian vultures in the transboundary Douro canyon – done last summer by teams from the ICNF, the Portuguese nature conservation agency, and from the Arribes del Duero Natural Park, revealed that there are 135 pairs of Egyptian vultures along the International Douro and its tributaries (121 pairs confirmed and 14 possible) – while this is still one of the densest populations in Iberia, the survey revealed that at least 15-20 pairs disappeared since 2010.
Breeding productivity – measured in a subsample of these pairs (n=69), was 0.72, while the fledgling rate was 1.06 young for each successful breeding pair. Breeding success was about 68%.
The results of the survey established what is the reference situation at the start of the project LIFE RUPIS, which aims to strength the populations of Egyptian Vulture in Douro International valley, through improved breeding success and reduction of mortality, and implemented by the VCF and partners, including SPEA (BirdLife in Portugal), ATN and Palombar (regional conservation organisations in NE Portugal), the Junta de Castilla y Leon & the Fundación Patrimonio Natural de Castilla Y León, the Portuguese electricity distributor EDP-D, the Portuguese statutory conservation agency ICNF and the Portuguese environmental police force (GNR). The project is tackling the most important threats to Egyptian vultures, namely food shortages, degradation of the habitat, electrocution risk and the illegal use of poison
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 continue to decline in most regions in the continent (and elsewhere).
The survey has also updated the fieldwork protocol for this species, and upgraded the common database where all this information is now stored. It also analysed common threats to Egyptian vultures’ nests, that will now be mitigated by several actions.
Photo: Bruno Berthémy/VCF