Every year for the last 24 years scientists and conservation technicans working on vulture conservation in France organise a meeting to come together to share and discuss their work conserving and protecting the four European species of vultures found in France, the bearded, cinereous, Egyptian and Griffon vultures.
Organised by the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO) This year the meeting took place in the village of Le Chaffaut-Saint-Jurson, Alpes-de-Haute Province, just north of the Regional Natural Park of Verdon in the south-east of the country. And we were there supporting our French colleagues and sharing our work.
The Vulture Conservation Foundation Director, José Tavares and scientific team Franziska Lörcher and Louis Phipps participated in the meeting which was attended by more than 100 delegates from many different organizations from across France and neighbouring countries. The participant list reflected the ongoing commitment of French organizations to vulture conservation, as well as the high level of expertise that the country has in vulture conservation strategies, many of which were pioneered by people and organizations at the meeting.
On the first day of the meeting four workshops were facilitated to discuss the development of a new national action plan to conserve cinereous vultures; the role of ecotourism for vulture conservation; the impacts of human recreational activities on vultures; and three aspects of Egyptian vulture ecology and conservation (interactions with griffon vultures; migration; and food sources). The workshops illustrated how bringing groups of people together with diverse knowledge and experience can lead to effective exchange of information and ideas, and it was encouraging to witness the positive discussions and planned actions surrounding these topics.
The second day of the meeting consisted of a full day of presentations about an incredibly diverse selection of topics on the ecology, threats and conservation of the four species of vulture that occur in Europe. There were interesting presentations about the threat of power lines to vultures and how to mitigate them; the detection of lead contamination in vultures and the promotion of lead-free ammunition for hunting; habitat selection by black vultures; vulture movement patterns; and the perception of vultures and the ecosystem services that they provide in the Pyrenees. There were also updates about national species action plans and progress reports from several LIFE projects. It was truly inspiring to hear about all of the fantastic work that is happening in France and neighbouring countries!
The VCF team were given the opportunity to present about progress with the Multi-species Action Plan to Conserve African-Eurasian Vultures; Egyptian vulture reintroduction strategies in Bulgaria; the International Bearded Vulture Monitoring network; and the movements of tracked Egyptian vultures from the LIFE Rupis project. The presentations were well-received and stimulated some interesting discussions during the meeting.
On the final day of the meeting the participants visited the stunning Verdon Gorge and the Regional Natural Reserve of St Maurin, home to breeding griffon vultures and a release site for cinereous vultures. The scenery was breath-taking and it was fantastic to observe magnificent griffon vultures cruising by at close quarters.
The full programme and presentations are available on the 24th Meeting of the French Vulture Network website.
It was a privilege to attend the meeting and hear about the positive progress being made for vulture conservation in France - long may it continue!