Ethiopian expedition for vulture conservation

From a press release by BSPB project manager Stoyan Nikolov for the group “Life for the Egyptian vulture”.

In January 2019, an expedition to Ethiopia was conducted jointly by BSPB, RSPB, BirdLife Africa, EWNHS, SCF, NCF et APLORI, with three objectives :

  • Check the number of Egyptian vultures in Afar wintering sites and in a small area of the Oromia region.
  • Gather evidence of the main threats (poisoning, electrocution/collision, direct persecution) in order to implement appropriate conservation actions.
  • Fix GPS/GSM transmitters on Egyptian vultures.

Here below is a summary of the results of the expedition :

1644 Egyptian vultures perched in the studied area were numbered, 1019 of them adults, 644 immatures/fledglings and 44 birds whose age could not be determined. This is the highest number recorded so far, compared with the previous monitoring : 1424 in 2009, 1400 in 2010 and 1082 in 2013 (see Arkumarev et al. 2014.pdf).

Electrocutions and collisions with electrical lines were identified as the main threats for vultures. 180 km of dangerous electrical lines (low and medium-voltage power lines) were inspected for electrocution and collision victims. The field team found 42 bird carcasses of which 6 Egyptian vultures and 9 other vultures. Out of the 42, 22 birds of prey were electrocuted and 15 collided with power lines. Most of the birds were found along highly dangerous electrical lines in the Metehara (high number of easily reached meadows) and the Logia zones (along 2 landfills with many scavengers). The necessary steps to fight this scourge will be taken with MSB II project.

The information collected from institutions and local players shows unintentional or intentional poisoning (including with veterinary medicine which is toxic for vultures) or direct persecution do not seem to be serious and systematic threats for Egyptian vultures or other vultures in the studied zone. However, a more in-depth investigation will be necessary, especially concerning poisoning as an adult bird was found in a landfill and its autopsy shows an intoxication by heavy metals.
7 Egyptian vultures (2 adults and 2 immatures) were captured in the Metehara and Logia landfills and equipped with GPS-GSM transmitters. You can follow their daily activities via the website Project Birdlife Neophron

Translated by Claudine Caillet.