The survey of the Egyptian vultures breeding in the transboundary Douro canyon started last week, with staff from the ICNF, the Portuguese nature conservation agency, and from Arribes del Duero Natural Parks surveying a section of the cliffs from the river. They reported that all birds are now on their breeding territories, although the breeding season seems to be a bit delayed, because of the unseasonal cold that affected that part of the Iberian Peninsula in the end of March.
Last year the ICNF and the Arribes del Duero Natural Park completed an exhaustive breeding census of Egyptian vultures in the whole Douro canyon, and identified 135 pairs of Egyptian vultures (121 pairs confirmed and 14 possible) – see report below. This year’s survey will focus on a sample of these pairs, to measure breeding productivity.
Last year´s results 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.
You can download the full report (in Portuguese) from the breeding census below.
Photos: LIFE RUPIS