The Egyptian Vulture – one of the most threatened birds of prey on Earth – is still declining across most of its vast range, and thus planning future conservation actions and focusing the conservation investment where it matters is of paramount importance.
That is why in 2015 the Coordinating Unit of the Raptors MoU from the Convention for Migratory Species (CMS), and the EU LIFE+ Project ‘The Return of the Neophron’, initiated a process to develop a Flyway Action Plan for the Conservation of the Balkan and Central Asian Populations of the Egyptian Vulture (EVFAP).
Following a workshop in July 2015, and a significant drafting effort, a draft plan is now ready for consultation, and indeed the Coordinating Unit of the Raptors MoU, has just launched a public consultation exercise on the final draft
The VCF has not only cofacilitated the workshop, held in Sofia in July 2015, and that included representatives from 70+ stakeholders from 33 different countries, but we have also coordinated the ‘Implementation Review of the (2008) EU Species Action Plan for the Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus)’, which you can download below.
The draft EVFAP has been developed based on completed questionnaires received from Range States of the species, coupled with the highly constructive inputs in the EVFAP Planning Workshop. It is presented in three languages – English, French and Russian.
Do read the plan and contribute your comments – and also share it with fellow colleagues and experts on the Egyptian vulture range states within this flyway, which includes the Balkans, Central Asia, Caucasus, Middle East, and Central and Eastern Africa. The purpose of the Public Consultation Exercise is to reach out even further to enhance the quality of both the content and conclusions contained in the EVFAP.
The EVFAP will form a key component of the Multi-species Action Plan to Conserve African-Eurasian Vultures (Vulture MsAP), which is being developed for presentation at the 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP12) to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), scheduled to be held in Manila, Philippines in October 2017, and n which the VCF plays a big part.
Summary overview of the EVFAP
The globally ‘Endangered’ Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) is still undergoing rapid population declines throughout most of its range, especially across Europe, Africa and India. The overall European population has decreased by 50% over the last 50 years, whereas the Balkan population has declined by 80% over the last 30 years and is at serious risk of extinction.
Egyptian Vultures from the Balkans are long distance migrants wintering in the Sahel zone of Africa. These annual return journeys can be perilous and there is evidence to show that most mortality occurs along the flyway.
The overall long-term goal of the EVFAP is to improve the conservation status of the Egyptian Vulture throughout the flyway, initially aiming at downlisting the species to ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List of threatened species, and eventually achieving a favourable conservation status across its range. More specific objectives are to maintain the current population levels in the areas with stable numbers of breeding pairs and to reverse negative population trends in those parts of the FAP range where large declines have been reported in recent years.
The major threats along this flyway are:
· poisoning, primarily via organic bait laced with toxic chemicals aimed at mammalian carnivores;
· electrocution and collisions with energy infrastructure; and,
· direct persecution.
The drivers behind these threats are presented in the EVFAP, alongside a suite of conservation actions to address them. Additional needs are identified including: long-term research and monitoring; designation of protected areas; building conservation capacity; improving exchange of information; enhanced coordination of NGO-driven initiatives; partnerships with industry (e.g. energy, agriculture); and improving awareness-raising and publicity.
It is envisaged that the EVFAP will be implemented over a 10-year period and be formally reviewed after five years. It is also proposed that an EVFAP Working Group be established to promote and support the implementation of the Plan within each of the Range States.
Photo: Bruno Berthemy/VCF