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Balkan population of Egyptian vulture stabilizes

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The population of Egyptian vulture in the Balkans has stabilized following an EU-funded project carried out in recent years.

The stabilization of the population was documented in a recently published article in Animal Conservationwhich details the efforts of an international collaboration of partners working across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

In Eastern Europe, the Egyptian vulture population numbered more than 600 pairs in the 1980s, but quickly declined. Since 2010, Balkan conservationists have attempted to save the Balkan breeding population, but the population has continued to decline, reaching around 50 pairs in 2018.



Egyptian vulture has declined significantly in the Balkans in recent decades (Ron Marshall).

However, an ambitious EU-funded project has expanded the work across the entire flyway, involving 22 organizations across three continents. Led by conservationists from the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds and partners including the RSPB, the project team reduced the risk of poisoning, electrocution and direct persecution in 14 countries along the flyway , while strengthening the breeding population in the Balkans. by releasing captive-bred individuals donated by a network of European zoos.

Thanks to this enormous collaborative effort, the downward trajectory has now been halted and the population of Egyptian vultures in the Balkans has stabilized at around 50 breeding pairs.

Steffen Oppel, RSPB Senior Conservation Scientist, said: “This project is a fantastic example of international collaboration and evidence-based conservation. Ten years ago we didn’t know what the problem was, but the EU helped us invest in research and we followed the evidence and worked with local partners along the flyway to reduce the large-scale threats.

“I am immensely proud of what this team has accomplished, but the daunting prospect is that we must continue this effort because the Egyptian vulture is by no means safe.”

Reference

Oppel, S, and others. 2023. Long-term flyway-scale conservation efforts can halt population decline of a globally endangered migratory raptor. Animal conservation. DO I: https://doi.org/10.1111/acv.12917

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