Only a few days after 70+ Egyptian vulture experts from all over Europe, Africa and he Middle east discussed in Bulgaria how to enhance the conservation of the Egyptian vulture in the eastern flyway (see here), another terrible blow hit the Balkan breeding population – on the 16th July an adult breeding Egyptian vulture was found dead in its nest in the area of Meteora (Central Greece), almost certainly poisoned.
The dead bird was discovered in its nest when researchers from the Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS) who were monitoring the population in the area as part of the LIFE project “Return of the Neophron” (http://lifeneophron.eu/) climbed to the the nest after noticing the absence of the pair. Although the second bird hasn’t been found, researchers fear that it has followed the same fate.
This is the second case of poisoned Egyptian vultures in the area of Meteora in four years, and hit one of the last three surviving pairs in the area. Until the end of the 20th century this area had the highest concentration of breeding Egyptian vultures in Greece, and probably in all the Balkans, but the species is now verging extinction there.
Previous research has shown that adult mortality is the main driving force of the current declines we observe in Europe – and as the experts discussed in Sofia, poisoning continues to be the main threat for this species, notably in Greece, where in the last 4 years at least 5 Egyptian vultures were killed due to poison baits.