The range of threats affecting vultures is relatively well known, and indeed has been thoroughly discussed in the Vulture multi-Species Action Plan that the VCF has been co-drafting on behalf of the Convention for Migratory Species (CMS), to be presented and adopted at the Conference of Parties later this year. Poison is still the biggest killer of vultures both in Africa, Asian and Europe, but electrocution comes a close second in many parts of the world – as we were reminded this week, when two griffons were found dead, electrocuted, at the base of an electricity pylon in Andalusia
Electrocution happens in poorly insulated or designed medium-tension poles, where griffons and other soaring birds often perch, and when the bird does contact between the wire and the earth through the pole. Electrocution of birds does not only kill protected and rare species but is also a problem for the electricity distribution companies – there are often black-outs and performance problems because of such incidents.
Solutions are simple, and not that expensive – in the immediate, dangerous poles can be insulated, while in the longer term, and more sustainably, the adoption of pole designs that are less prone to electrocution of birds is recommended. Indeed, in many countries electricity distribution companies are now working with conservation organisations to minimize this threats – in our own projects LIFE GYPCONNECT, LIFE GYPHELP, LIFE RUPIS and LIFE RE-Vultures we are working with national and regional companies to insulate hundreds of potentially dangerous pylons in Portugal, France and Bulgaria.
In Spain, several conservation NGOs have teamed up recently to establish a platform to advocate further action on this matter – see http://sostendidos.com/
Please be aware that electrocution kills vultures – and if you detect such an incident, please contact us! It is important to identify problem poles to then advocate for mitigation matters to be applied.
Photos: Pedro Fernadéz Lozano