With a growth rate of around 3 percent since 1999 the population of Griffon Vultures has increased to 3,339 breeding pairs across the Spanish region of Andalucía in a survey carried out by the government of the autonomous region, Junta de Andalucía’s Ministry of Environment and Territorial Planning.
This population shows an 11 percent increase compared to a survey carried out in 2014, showing a steady growth rate of 4 percent since that survey was carried out.
Across the region the Griffon Vulture is present in all provinces except Huelva and across all the regions the species was present showed an increase with the exception of Cordova and Cádiz has the highest number of pairs accounting for two thirds of the Andalusian population. Favouring the rocky outcrops of the mountain ranges, colonies of the species have been found primariliy in the westernmost tip of the Penibética mountain range (Alcornocales, Sierra de Grazalema, Strait of Gibraltar and Zaframagón) as well as the central and eastern Sierra Morena and the Subbética mountain range.
Efforts to fight illegal poisoning in Andalucía
The continued growth of the population of Griffon Vultures has been attributed to the region’s approach to tackling illegal wildlife poisoning. The use of poisoned baits is a widespread practice throughout Spain and Europe, despite being banned since 1983, to control large predators of game and livestock species. However, since 2004 the Junta de Andalucía have been leading the world with a strategy to fight the issue, the Andalusian Strategy against Poison, which has included investing in anti-poisoning dog units, investment in law enforcement, Agentes de Medio Ambiente, that secure the enforcement on the ground and developed pioneering work on toxicology on the regional reference lab to enhance the forensic investigative techniques. This has seen a 55 percent drop in the reported cases of poisoning.
Griffon Vultures in Spain
Spain is home to 75 percent of the world’s population of Griffon Vultures and 90 percent of all Griffon Vultures in Europe are found in Spain. This population in Spain has grown rapidly over the last 40 years when in 1979 it was estimated that there were around only 3,249 breeding pairs in the whole of the country. Today that figure is considerably higher with around 25,000 pairs in Spain, a growth that has been attributed to conservation actions such as tackling poisoning and mitigating threat of collision with electrical infrastructure as well as providing safe food for birds at designated vulture feeding stations.