The death of four Egyptian vultures alerts about dangerous wind farms in the Strait of Gibraltar

The death of four Egyptian vultures after colliding with wind turbines registered in recent weeks has reiterated warnings about the danger to the avifauna of wind farms that are concentrated on the Spanish coast of the Strait of Gibraltar.
The environmental groups Verdemar Ecologistas en Acción and Colectivo Cigüeña Negra have denounced this week that among these four dead vultures stand out the female and the chicken of the last pair of this protected species breeding in the zone of Tarifa (Cadiz).
The Egyptian vulture is one of the four species of vulture breeding in Spain, together with the griffon, cinereous and bearded vulture. It is officially catalogued as an endangered species.
Andalusia's Egyptian vulture population has suffered a sustained decline in the last decades, since half of their breeding pairs have been lost since the year 2000, until being reduced to 23, according to the last census of the Junta de Andalucía collated by Efe.
Both the head of the necrophagous bird program of the Junta de Andalucía, Rafael Arenas, and the researcher of the Doñana Biological Station (CSIC), José Antonio Donázar, have warned in recent studies and conferences of the decline of this species in the autonomous community of Andalusia, exacerbated by the high mortality of adult specimens.
The unnatural death of adult birds has a great population impact due to the low productivity of this species, which usually raise only one fledgling per year and it takes five years to reach sexual maturity.
The death by collision with the increasing number of wind turbines that are concentrated in the Spanish border of the Strait of Gibraltar has become as the second cause of unnatural death of the species in Andalusia and as its main factor leading to extinction, along with poisoning.
Verdemar and Cigüeña Negra have denounced that the death of these four vultures evidence deficiencies of the environmental impact statements of the wind farms of Tarifa and have alerted that they are the tip of the iceberg of the thousands of birds that die every year when hitting against windmills in the strait, one of the most important migration routes between Europe and Africa.
They have also criticized the ineffectiveness of corrective and compensatory measures of these farms, such as monitoring to stop wind turbines when flying birds around them, and have doubted the likelihood of the figures of this mortality being provided.
The concentration of wind farms in the Strait is joined by the repowering of old wind turbines, of small height, which are being replaced by more modern and larger windmills.
"The most serious issue is that the Junta de Andalucía has not taken actions to avoid the enormous loss of biodiversity caused by wind farms, especially in birds threatened or in danger of extinction," have denounced the conservation groups.
They have also criticized the fact that the regional government continues to authorize new wind farms and the repowering of the already existing wind turbines in ZEPAS (Special Bird Conservation Areas) or nearby, despite the express prohibition of European legislation.
They have also questioned the validity of studies on minimizing the impact of wind farms or the existence of "intelligent" wind turbines, which would avoid the collision of birds. These works were funded precisely by wind and electricity companies and developed by entities accused of conflict of interest, such as The Migres Foundation.

Sevilla, June 18 (EFE)

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