National Action Plan for the bearded vulture, griffon vulture and cinereous vulture bird species

November 8, 2021
Categories: Announcements

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” menu_anchor=” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=” id=” background_color=” background_image=” background_position=”center center” background_repeat=”no-repeat” fade=”no” background_parallax=”none” parallax_speed=”0.3″ video_mp4=” video_webm=” video_ogv=” video_url=” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_loop=”yes” video_mute=”yes” overlay_color=” video_preview_image=” border_size=” border_color=” border_style=”solid” padding_top=” padding_bottom=” padding_left=” padding_right=”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ layout=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=” border_size=” border_color=” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” spacing=”yes” background_image=” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding_top=” padding_right=” padding_bottom=” padding_left=” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=” id=” animation_type=” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” center_content=”no” last=”no” min_height=” hover_type=”none” link=”][fusion_text]The population status and distribution of the three vulture species in Greece have suffered a serious decline in the last 30 years. The deterioration is more prominent as regards the distribution of the species with a decline greater than 50%. In some parts of the country (e.g. Peloponnese) vulture species have completely disappeared.

The bearded vulture breeds only in Crete island (6-7 pairs), the cinereous vulture in north eastern Greece (25-35 pairs), while the griffon vulture is limited to local isolated population pockets (Thrace area,  Crete island, Aitoloakarnania area,  Cyclades islands) with about 350 pairs in total.

The dramatic decline of the three vulture species populations is largely due to their secondary killing by Illegal use of poison baits, usually targetting for the so-called “harmful” carnivorous mammals. This pressure, combined with the reduction of available food resources due to the free-range livestock farming decline, and other factors that cause mortality (collisions with pylons and power lines and wind turbines installed in critical areas for these species), limit the possibilities of population recovery.

The bearded vulture, griffon vulture and cinereous vulture are priority species for the European Union as they are included in Annex I of the Birds Directive 2009/147/EC. All three vulture species are listed in Appendix III of the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, Appendix II of the Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, and Appendix II of the CITES Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

In the Red Book of Threatened Animals of Greece the vulture and the griffon vulture have been classified as “Critically Endangered” species, while the vulture population in Crete island has been assessed as “Threatened”. The remaining vulture populations of mainland Greece and Cyclades are assessed as “Critically Endangered”. The remaining vulture populations face serious management problems and threats. In the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the bearded vulture has been classified as “Endangered” at the European level, while the griffon vulture and the cinereous vulture are of “Least concern”.

National Action Plan 

The aim of the National Action Plan (NAP) is to set management measures that not only will halt further distribution decline but also will increase both distribution and number of breeding pairs (of the order of 10-15%) in all three vulture species in Greece. In order to achieve the NAP objectives, specific management actions will be implemented in the first stage, which were selected based on prioritization and after available funding possibilities had been taken into consideration.

NAP management actions to be implemented include the construction of supplementary vulture feeding stations in which food will be deposited (feeders) at regional and local level -within SPA areas-, and construction of suitable water reservoirs for water supply to critical island regions.

Appropriate specifications and operation rules will be determined and legally approved for the construction of supplementary feeding stations. Τhe operation rules of supplementary feeding stations are expected to support traditional disposal practices of dead animals. In supplementary feeding stations, both bird behavior and interaction with domestic animals will be monitored, along with risks of disease transmission in these areas.

In addition, monitoring and recording programmes will be developed which will use telemetry and individual ringing to identify juveniles’ feeding and distribution areas. These data will supplement existing knowledge for these specific vulture species.

The release of individuals in specific areas to strengthen the natural vulture populations will be made possible via the construction of appropriate facilities and the implementation of appropriate vulture rehabilitation programmes (Care Centers), in combination with the development of a reproduction in captivity plan by those Care Center facilities.

Competent forest authorities will assemble seven regional teams supported with specially trained dogs which will systematically patrol and surveille critical high-risk areas, with the aim of finding and stopping the illegal use of poisoned baits. The employees of the competent authorities will be trained in a range of topics related to the general management of vulture populations through training seminars.

At the same time, the legal framework for illegal poisoning of wildlife and respective penalties and fines will be revised. Additional actions include a unified information system on poisoning incidents and dead animal collection by public authorities and a storing and transporting dead vulture samples system for toxicological analyses with certified procedures.

Actions to limit incidents of electrocution and collision on man-made infrastructure include: development of protocols and guidelines for systematic monitoring of existing electricity transmission networks near vulture breeding and nesting sites, mapping and impact assessment of electrocution and collision on infrastructure. The mapping and impact assessment will take into consideration flight behavior and vulture biology. Cumulative impacts from wind farms (either planned or operating) will also be taken into account, in order to design additional impact mitigation measures and techniques for vulture populations.

To evaluate the effectiveness of management actions, a monitoring programme will be implemented that will use evaluation indicators, in order to assess the actions in an objective and measurable way, to the extent that this will be possible.

The implementation of the National Action Plan is expected to secure suitable breeding and feeding conditions in the current active vulture sites and is expected to create suitable conditions for population growth, potentially leading to a wider distribution and recolonization of historical sites – territories of the three vulture species in the future. Due to the large range and variety of habitats used by these species, the implementation of the NAP will generally benefit wildlife and natural habitats and may provide significant co-benefits to society due to the high dependence of these species on anthropogenic activities (e.g. livestock farming).[/fusion_text][fusion_code]PGRpdiBjbGFzcz0iaWZyYW1lbHktZW1iZWQiPg0KPGRpdiBjbGFzcz0iaWZyYW1lbHktcmVzcG9uc2l2ZSIgc3R5bGU9ImhlaWdodDogMTQwcHg7IHBhZGRpbmctYm90dG9tOiAwOyI+PC9kaXY+DQo8L2Rpdj4NCjxzY3JpcHQgYXN5bmMgc3JjPSIvL2Nkbi5pZnJhbWUubHkvZW1iZWQuanMiIGNoYXJzZXQ9InV0Zi04Ij48L3NjcmlwdD4=[/fusion_code][fusion_text columns=” column_min_width=” column_spacing=” rule_style=”default” rule_size=” rule_color=” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=” id=”]

  1. The National Action Plan for the three vulture species (Gypaetus barbatus, Gyps fulvus & Aegypius monachus) has been legally approved by the Ministry of the Environment and Energy in August 2021 (the Ministerial Decision is available here).
  2. The Ministerial Decision was based on the corresponding study prepared by the Hellenic Ornithological Society and received by the Natural Environment and Biodiversity Management Directorate of the Ministry of the Environment and Energy, in the framework of the LIFE-IP 4 NATURA project “Integrated actions for conservation and management of Natura 2000 sites, species, habitats and ecosystems in Greece” (LIFE16 IPE/GR/000002).
  3. The full text of the study is available on the LIFE-IP 4 NATURA deliverables webpage (Action A.1).