The Egyptian vulture population in Italy is on the verge of extinction, with only 10 pairs remaining – most in Sicily. There this species has decreased by 85-90% over the past 30 years, mainly due to changes in the agricultural practices and the reduction of extensive goat and sheep grazing.
To try to stop this decline, WWF Italy and a number of other organisations have started in the end of 2015 a project – LIFE Conrasi, that aims to improve the reproductive success of the Egyptian vulture (and also of the Bonelli’s eagle and lanner), by carrying out habitat management measures. The project aims to stabilise and possible increase the population of Egyptian vulture, through an increase in reproductive success, a reduction in mortality and recruitment of new individuals (fledging rate increased from 1% to 1.49% for young nesting pairs) and the establishment of new breeding pairs (3-5 pairs by 2020).
Several actions are in implementation that aim to:
- Halt nest predation by poachers in Sicily;
- Improve the trophic (nutritional) capacity of the Sicilian territories where the species occur, by setting up feeding sites;
- Gain a detailed picture of the three-species’ demography, mortality rates and survival rates, as well as their distribution in relation to the Natura 2000 network, proposing, where necessary, adjustments (i.e. new boundaries of current sites and inclusion of new sites);
- Set up guidelines for habitat management aimed at improving the status of the three species, through the development of models of habitat preference and related habitat suitability models;
- Improve information offered to stakeholders and the general public in the areas where the species occur