Mon

30

Jun

2014

Thousands of French farmers, livestock breeders and hunters protest in the Pyrenees against the rewilding of the mountains

 

Last Saturday a street protest organised by a number of regional farming, livestock and hunting organisations gathered 2,500 protesters in Foix, in the department of Ariège. The message was clear, if outdated: “Do not touch my mountain”, “vultures, bears and wolves out”, and “stop the massacre”. You can see details of this demonstration, including a short video, in the link below
http://france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr/midi-pyrenees/2014/06/28/plus-de-2000-personnes-manifestent-foix-contre-les-grands-predateurs-508021.html
 

The people were protesting against the rewilding of the Pyrenees, and the impacts that large predators (and vultures?) allegedly have on their activities. They would like to be able to hunt and kill these animals.

While the VCF respects the opinion of these people, and their right to demonstrate, and acknowledges their expectations, we believe they belong to the past. The new rurality – even in France - is one where biodiversity, farming, tourism, people and wilderness coexist successfully.

Current evidence does not support any of the arguments shouted about in the demonstration, or conveyed in the many articles that regularly surface in the regional press. In relative terms, predators have very little impact on farming and livestock, certainly when compared with other costs, and there are solutions and tools to minimise those too. They also bring revenue, in terms of tourism, profile and visitors.

The case of the vultures is even more puzzling, and demonstrative of the level of misinformation that exists in those sectors - these birds are not predators and will not kill an animal that is active and moving – they have not evolved to search for moving animals, instead responding behaviourally only to immobility. While they may kill a few animals that are lying around mortally wounded (and that would die in any case), their role as scavengers is actually extremelly beneficial to the farmers and livestock breeders,  and for the French people, as animal carcasses do not have to be removed from the countryside if they are consumed by vultures. The VCF is finishing preparing a position paper on the issue of incidents between vultures and live cattle, which aims to demystify – and provide all the latest scientific evidence- about this matter.

Final point to list some take home messages and a conclusion from yesterday’s public demonstration – conservation organisation like ours need to be more effective in informing the public at large about the benefits of biodiversity, and we need to engage more with the local stakeholders to discuss the issues. However, the leaders of farming, hunting and livestock organisations in the Pyrenees and elsewhere should have the vision to take them to the future, and not stay stuck in a yesteryears mind-set that will only result in their progressive isolation.

You can also download below a statement put out by LPO (Ligue Pour la Protection des Oiseaux) before this demonstration.

 

 

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Sun

29

Jun

2014

Tagged Egyptian vulture killed for the traditional medicine trade in West Africa

 

It is well known that Africa vultures are declining across most of the continent. Drivers of decline vary from region to region – in West Africa, vultures are being killed mostly for food and for the traditional medicine trade, with Nigeria and Benin being at the centre of this wildlife persecution pattern. The VCF and a number of other organisations have already alerted for this unprecedented biodiversity crisis – see here

 

Recently, this was brought home with the news that a rare Egyptian vulture – that had been tagged in Greece as part of a conservation project – was shot in Niger, and taken to Nigeria. You can read an account of this story here

 

 

 

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Sat

28

Jun

2014

New paper published on the spatial ecology of the endangered Egyptian vulture in Spain

Food predictability determines space use of endangered vultures - Lopez-Lopez et al. 2014
Lopez_Lopez et al Ecol Appl 2014.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 1.2 MB
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Fri

27

Jun

2014

New improved guidelines for captive breeding of bearded vultures have just been published by the VCF

Guidelines and recommendations for the captive breeding of bearded vulture - 2nd edition
Guidelines housing BV in captivity 2nd e
Adobe Acrobat Document 3.2 MB
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Wed

25

Jun

2014

And here we go to a new life – bearded vultures released in the Grands Causses fledged!

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Sun

22

Jun

2014

Indian vulture conservationist makes emotive plea to FATRO - please stop manufacturing diclofenac!

 

Indian colleagues involved in saving the last few vultures in the Indian subcontinent make emotive plea to FATRO – the Italian company who is marketing the drug in Europe: please stop manufacturing diclofenac! You can read their letter below.

 

The VCF has contacted FATRO and asked them to consider a voluntary withdrawal of the drug, but sadly the Italian pharmaceutical company has refused. FATRO was well aware of the association between veterinary diclofenac and vulture declines, and have thus acted in bad faith when it pushed for a marketing permit in Italy and Spain. They have an enormous responsibility in all this situation, and will be held responsible when vultures start dying.

 

If you would like to write to FATRO to convey your thoughts on their reckless approach, please do so at comunicazione@fatro.it

 

 

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Sun

15

Jun

2014

Two more Egyptian vultures tagged in Eastern Turkey in a VCF supported project

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Tue

10

Jun

2014

The Wildlife Conservation Society, the Society for Conservation Biology & the British Veterinary Zoological Society all alert to the dangers of diclofenac

 

Leading conservation and veterinary organisations repeat what the VCF has been saying all along - that the legal approval of veterinary diclofenac is senseless and careless. You can download their letters at http://www.4vultures.org/our-work/campaigning-to-ban-diclofenac-in-europe/

 

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Wed

04

Jun

2014

Three new papers published recently on bearded vultures worldwide - New data confirms worrying declines in Southern Africa and the Himalayas

 

Three interesting papers have been published recently on bearded vultures. Data from a long-term study by Sonja Krueger et al.  in southern Africa indicates that the isolated Bearded Vulture  Population  there (from the African subspecies,  Gypaetus barbatus meridionalis) shows worrying trends. The number of occupied breeding territories decreased by a minimum of 32% and a maximum of 51% over the past five decades, with several territories abandoned, mostly in the periphery. The breeding range decreased by 27%, and breeding densities also decreased by 20%, decliningfrom 4.9 to 3.9 pairs/1,000 km 2 .The current population is estimated at 352- 390 individuals, estimated area of occupancy of 28,125 km 2

 

In Nepal, Raju Acharya et assessed the status of the Bearded Vulture between 2002 and 2008 in the Upper Mustang, observing a rapid decline of the species, with the number of individuals recorded per day and per kilometre falling by 73% and 80%, respectively.

 

The authors conclude that the use of the veterinary drug diclofenac could lie behind this decline, as the species range in the Himalayas overlap with the distribution of other vulture species there known to be affected by diclofenac. Incredibly, this veterinary drug has now been approved for veterinary use in Spain and Italy, thus potentially endangering this species in Europe – seemingly the only place in the world where it is now increasing. See http://www.4vultures.org/our-work/campaigning-to-ban-diclofenac-in-europe/ for details on the VCF campaign to ban this drug.

 

Another corollary of these two studies is that If these declines now reported for Nepal and Southern Africa are observed elsewhere, then the global conservation status of this species should be reassessed.

 

Finally, a short communication was also published by Lopez-Lopez et al, with more data on the period of post-fledgling dependence, and the onset of natal dispersal, in bearded vultures tagged with GPS devices, in the Pyrenees, or released in the Cantabrian Mountains after artificial incubation and hacking.

 

You can download all the papers below.

 

 

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Tue

03

Jun

2014

One more massive vulture poisoning incident reported from Africa: 92 vultures died in Botswana

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Wed

28

May

2014

African Raptors Newsletter #4

The latest edition of the African Raptors Newsletter has been published. It has several vulture-related articles, including several mentions to the VCF. You can download the document below.

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Tue

27

May

2014

New evidence published today shows that veterinary diclofenac kills eagles too

 

This drug is now ‘a global problem’ threatening many vulnerable birds of prey. The Spanish Imperial Eagle, a threatened and endemic Iberian species, is now at risk too!

 

It is well known that veterinary diclofenac caused an unprecedented decline in South Asia’s Gyps vulture populations, with some species declining by more than 97% between 1992 and 2007. Veterinary diclofenac causes renal failure in vultures, and killed tens of millions of such birds in the Indian sub-continent. The drug was finally banned there for veterinary purposes in 2006.

 

It was then surprising and frustrating to find, late last year, that diclofenac had been licensed for veterinary use in Italy and Spain, thus creating a real and immense risk for European vulture populations. For the last few months the Vulture Conservation Foundation has led, together with BirdLife International, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (UK), SEO/BirdLife (Spain) and LIPU (Italy), a campaign aiming to ban this veterinary drug from Europe. EU decision makers can and should indeed revaluate the risk this drug poses to vultures, and cancel the legal marketing permits.

 

Now, a new scientific study, published today (Tuesday 27th May) in the journal Bird Conservation International, confirms that eagles are also susceptible to veterinary diclofenac, effectively increasing the potential threat level, and the risks for European biodiversity. Tests carried out on two steppe eagles (Aquila nipalensis) found dead at a cattle carcass dump in Rajasthan, India, showing the same clinical signs of kidney failure as seen in vultures, indicated they had diclofenac residue in their tissues. The authors suggest that all the 14 eagle species in the genus Aquila are also probably susceptible to diclofenac.

 

Steppe eagles are closely related with golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetus), imperial eagles (Aquila heliaca) and Spanish imperial eagles (Aquila adalberti), and all these species scavenge opportunistically on carcasses throughout their range. The Spanish imperial eagle, considered Vulnerable at global level, is now particularly at risk, due to the availability of diclofenac in Spain.

 

These findings strengthen the case for banning veterinary diclofenac across. Tens of thousands of people, many leading conservation organisations, distinct veterinary bodies and several Members of the European Parliament have already questioned the EU Commission, the Spanish and the Italian governments, and the Italian company FATRO (the distributor of the drug in Europe) on the risks of this drug to European Vultures. Now, with unequivocal evidence that this veterinary drug can cause a much wider impact on Europe´s biodiversity, it is time for action – please ban veterinary diclofenac now!

 

Dr Toby Galligan, a RSPB conservation scientist and one of the authors of the paper, said: “We have known for some time that diclofenac is toxic to Gyps vultures, including the Eurasian griffon vulture, but we now know it is toxic to an Aquila eagle too. This suggests that the drug is fatal to a greater number of birds of prey in Asia, Europe and around the world. We had suspected as much from observed declines in non-Gyps vultures in Asia, but this study confirms our worst fears.”

 

Dr. José Tavares, the director of the Vulture Conservation Foundation, said: “The European Commission, and the Italian and the Spanish governments need to recognise this problem and impose a continent-wide ban on veterinary diclofenac before it is too late. This new paper raises the stakes - now it is vultures AND Eagles”.

 

For more information on the campaign to ban veterinary diclofenac in Europe, please check http://www.4vultures.org/our-work/campaigning-to-ban-diclofenac-in-europe/

For a video on the issue of diclofenac and vultures, please see http://vimeo.com/93067364

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Sun

25

May

2014

New VCF film on the bearded vulture reintroduction project in the Alps

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Tue

20

May

2014

Breeding season in the bearded vulture captive breeding network finished – results mixed, but releases into the wild about to star

Photo: Alex Llopis Dell
Photo: Alex Llopis Dell
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Wed

14

May

2014

Listen to an interview with the VCF on diclofenac on Radio New Zealand

Podcast - interview with Radio New Zealand
Interview Radio New Zealand.mp3
MP3 Audio File 3.5 MB
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Sat

10

May

2014

120 black vultures at the feeding station in Turkey

Photo: Bruno Barthemy
Photo: Bruno Barthemy
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Thu

08

May

2014

Bearded Vultures seen in Extremadura (Western Spain)

Photo John Muddeman
Photo John Muddeman
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Mon

28

Apr

2014

New film: Commissioner Borg, please ban veterinary diclofenac!

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Thu

24

Apr

2014

Three adopted bearded vulture chicks growing well in Austria – see the video

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Mon

21

Apr

2014

VCF is supporting Turkey´s only regularly functioning vulture feeding station

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Thu

17

Apr

2014

Diclofenac in Europe – the battle rages on!

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Tue

15

Apr

2014

Junta de Andalucia and VCF organise workshop on the African vultures poison crisis

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Mon

07

Apr

2014

Breaking News: Research suggests that Egyptian vultures may also be susceptible to Diclofenac

New evidence that Egyptian vultures may also be affected by diclofenac
Galligan et al 2014 Egyptian and redhead
Adobe Acrobat Document 378.8 KB
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Fri

04

Apr

2014

VCF participates in a training course on police and forensic investigation of poising incidents in nature

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