The first programme to carry out a survey and monitor diurnal cliff-nesting raptors in Morocco – an action integrated in the ATLAS Programme - was launched last week with the first expedition to the Atlantic Sahara, coordinated by the High Commission for Water and Forests and the Fight against Desertification (HCEFLCD), the IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation (UICN-Med) and the Regional Government of Andalusia in Spain.
In an example of cross-border cooperation, Moroccan and Spanish ornithologists, members of non-governmental organizations from Morocco (GOMAC – Groupe Ornithologique du Maroc and ASARA – Association des Amis des Rapaces), and from Spain (GREFA – Grupo de Rehabilitación de la Fauna Autóctona y su Hábitat and Fundación Migres), as well as the Junta de Andalucia, took part in the first expedition to the regions of Guelmin - Oued Noun and Tan-Tan for a period of 4 days.
Diurnal cliff-nesting raptors such as the Rüppell's vulture (Gyps rueppellii) or the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), among others, are the first target species in the census and monitoring programme, since they face serious threats such as electrocution on power lines or poisoning.
Preliminary data suggest that electrocution is a significant threat for breeding and for migrant birds of prey in this region, as already shown in a first study in 2016 (Rapport sur la mortalité de rapaces par électrocution dans le sud-ouest marocain).
Within the approximately 80 kilometers of power lines traveled during the past week, about 90 electrocuted birds were found. The most dangerous media have been identified to accelerate the implementation of corrective measures by the authorities and the electricity company.
This first visit also identified approximately 25 breeding pairs on this territory, including species such as the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), the Bonelli eagle (Aquila fasciata) or the lanner falcon (Falco biarmicus).
This wildlife monitoring programme, known as the Atlas Programme, aims to provide basic information on the threatened fauna of Morocco. This information will be used to carry out management actions aimed at the conservation of these species and overall biodiversity. The programme is coordinated by the HCEFLCD and IUCN-Med, with the technical support of the experts of the Regional Government of Andalusia The participation of experts and institutions from both shores of the Mediterranean consolidates a network of exchange of experiences and knowledge for a more effective management of wildlife conservation.
Furthermore, this programme shows that biodiversity conservation, especially raptors, knows no boundaries.
The Atlas Programme is integrated in the "Safe Flyways – reducing infrastructure-related bird mortality in the Mediterranean" Project, sponsored by the Mava Foundation.
For further details, please contact Violeta Barrios and Helena Clavero.