Save the Egyptian Vulture on the Balkans

05 December 2013 | News story
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A symbol of fertility and maternal protection in Egyptian mythology, the Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) is the smallest of the four species of European vultures. It is characterized by the crest of white, pointed feathers and white and wedge-shaped tail. Its population is rapidly decreasing today, and PPNEA, an IUCN member, is one of the organizations striving to save this species from extinction in Albania and the region.

The Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) is listed by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ as Endangered (EN) globally due to its estimated population of 21,000-67,000 individuals. There are less than 80 pairs of this Palearctic species in the Balkans, out of which about 10 are still breeding in Albania. Human activities change the environment and pose many threats to the survival of this bird, such as poisoning, electrocution, reduced food availability, disturbance, threats along the migration routes and habitat change. There is still a need to further investigate mortality causes of the Egyptian Vulture.

In order to secure the survival of this species in Bulgaria, Greece and neighboring countries, the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) is implementing a LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron”, in partnership with the Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS), the World Wildlife Fund-Greece (WWF) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). The Association for Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania (PPNEA), an IUCN member, is collaborating to the project in Albania. One of the key research actions is the tagging of the Egyptian Vultures from the Balkan population with satellite transmitters (learn about their voyages here). This enables us to understand better the flyway of the species and further learn about its mortality causes. The Egyptian Vulture juvenile named Mashkullora was the first one to be tagged in Albania; unfortunately it drowned near the Peloponnese on its way to wintering territories. 

Albania is a country with rich landscape forms, dominated by cliffs which qualify it as an adequate living place for the Egyptian Vulture or Kali i Qyqes (the horse of cuckoo), in Albanian. The Egyptian Vulture inhabits mainly the southern Albania, the regions of Gjirokastara and Vlora but can be found in very few territories in the North. In the last six years there was a 50% decline rate of this specie’s population in Albania. In order to prevent the extinction of the Egyptian Vulture in Albania urgent measures need to be taken, and mortality causes better understood. PPNEA is joining efforts with its partners and already planning the implementation of targeted conservation actions in the next year, raising its voice to save the Egyptian Vulture from extinction in Albania.

For more information, please contact Mirjan Topi, Association for Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania (PPNEA).


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