Workshop in Bulgaria

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From 5 to 8 July Armenian Society for the Protection of Birds took part in a workshop dedicated to the conservation of the globally threatened Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) held in Bulgaria. The main goal was to develop an International Egyptian Vulture Flyway Action Plan to secure the survival of the Balkan, Caucasian and Central Asian populations, including along the flyway and in the wintering grounds.

The International Flyway Action Plan will act as a pivotal tool to guide trans-continental cooperation and the implementation of conservation measures to ensure the long-term survival of Egyptian Vulture populations in the Balkans, Central Asia and the Caucasus, Middle East and Africa (all together sheltering about 40% of the global population).

The Egyptian Vulture is a bird of low numbers, listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Endangered (EN). Despite on its rapid population declines, it was included in Red Data Book of Armenia only in 2010. Being a part of the Caucasian region, in case of Egyptian Vulture conservation Armenia faces the same issue as our neighbors. The lack of information about the species population and its distribution in Armenia, as well as poor knowledge about its migration routes – these are the main points that make the picture of Egyptian Vulture conservation status so vague and fragmentary. The current situation calls for urgent interventions which should be made by the governments and local authorities. That is, a research upon the number of individuals, breeding pairs, nesting places, discovering the main local threats and factors affecting these species, and, of course, the migration route of the Egyptian Vulture.

The workshop brought together over 70 government officials, scientists, researchers and specialists from 33 countries in which the vultures breed, visit or spend the winter.

During the workshop a combination of the following threats have been identified to cause Egyptian Vulture population declines:

- poisoning, due to persecution of predators or inappropriate use of agricultural chemicals, prevailing use of lead shot;

- insufficient amount of accessible food caused by habitat degradation and sanitation practices;

- collisions with windfarms and electrocutions on power lines;

- disturbance at breeding sites and illegal harvesting for traditional medicine in some African countries.

Regarding to the threats the following priorities were identified:

• reduce threats from all types of poisoning;

• reduce illegal killing, trade and disturbance;

• prevent electrocution and collisions (turbines), build capacity in Central Asia, Africa and Middle East;

• promote research (outside breeding areas), improve exchange of information.

All stakeholders are called to adopt the International Egyptian Vulture Flyway Action Plan and to improve their coordination and scale up the ongoing conservation efforts for the species.

ASPB thanks BirdLife Bulgarian partner - BSPB - for hosting all the participants and for productive and fruitful meeting.

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