Andalusia has been at the forefront of the fight against illegal poisoning, particularly after its regional government decided to start, in 2006, the project to reintroduce the bearded vulture to the sierras of Cazorla. Today marks another important step in protecting wildlife with the signing of the Andalusian Pact Against Poisoning.
Andalusian Strategy Against Poison
The use of poisoned baits is a widespread practice throughout Spain and Europe, despite being banned since 1983, to control predators of game and livestock species, as we saw yesterday with our report on the tragic poisoning of three Griffon vultures in Greece.
Over the last 13 years the Andalusian Strategy Against Poison (EAV) has resulted in some of the best anti-poisoning programmes in not only Spain but also the world. Since 2004, the Junta de Andalusia has established anti-poisoning dog units, invest in Agentes de Medio Ambiente that secure the enforcement on the ground, developed pioneering work on toxicology on the regional reference lab to enhance the forensic investigative techniques. Andalusia has been leading - and helping others – on this area. This work has led to a 55 per cent decrease in the number of reported incidents of poisoning.
Despite this work there has still be significant incidents of poisoning of vultures in the region such as the death of 15 Griffon vultures in November 2017 or the death of reintroduced bearded vultures in 2016.
These deaths, along with the deaths of other endangered species such as Iberian lynx, Egyptian vultures and the Iberian imperial eagle, has led the Junta de Andalucia’s Ministry of Environment and Planning to making the fight against illegal poisoning a priority.
Andalusian Pact Against Poisoning
Today the efforts to tackle wildlife poisoning in Andalusia will be further enhanced with the formal signing of the Andalusian Pact Against Poisoning by José Fiscal, the Regional Minister of Environment and Planning in the Junta de Andalucia.
Several months ago the Junta de Andalucia announced the development of a new Andalusian Pact Against Poisoning, which, after months of negotiation with stakeholders, was formally agreed on and signed in a ceremony today.
The signing of the Andalusian Pact Against Poisoning will see an additional €100,000 investment in resources as well as a new strategy to fight against illegal poisoning which will see harsher penalties for those committing poisoning, public awareness campaigns and anti-poisoning dog units.
Vulture Multi-species Action Plan
This is excellent news for vultures in Spain as poisoning has been recognised as the single most important threat that vulture populations are facing worldwide as highlighted by the Vulture MsAP, a crucial strategic document for conservation of Old World vultures, approved by the Convention for Migratory Species (CMS) last year.
We hope that with the new pact the bearded vultures reintroduced in Andalusia - 4 of them already this year – will be safer, so that its population can continue to prosper – the project is a success, with already two breeding pairs raising young in the nature and two more pairs formed.