Published by France’s Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO), Vautours Info is the newsletter for partners helping to implement the French National Action Plan for Cinereous Vultures. The 35th edition of Vautours Info includes an analysis of the reintroduced populations in Grands Causses and Baronnies, updates on the breeding of France’s four vulture species, news of an lead-free ammunition experiment and plans for the next National Action Plan for Cinereous Vultures.
Population dynamics of reintroduced Cinereous Vultures
The reintroduction of Cinereous Vultures into France began in 1992 at the Parc naturel régional des Grands Causses, between then and 2004 53 birds were released into the wild. A second reintroduction project began in 2004 and is currently ongoing Parc naturel régional des Baronnies provençales. To understand the populations a comparison was conducted covering the first nine years of breeding at these two sites (1996 – 2004 for Grands Causses and 2009-2017 for the Baronnies):
- the number clutches of eggs laid during this period is 55 for the Grands Causses and 56 for the Baronnies
- the number of young birds successfully fledging the nest over this time was 23 for the Grands Causses and 24 for the Baronnies
Suggesting a similar evolution of the population demographics over this period. Data such as this will be vital in other reintroduction projects of the species such as in Bulgaria with the Vultures Back to LIFE project.
Breeding results for French vultures
Over 2018 the population of France’s vultures continues to grow. Since the last survey was conducted in 2016 the populations of Bearded, Cinereous and Griffon have all show an increasing population. The population of Griffon and Cinereous Vultures have risen at a phenomenal rate of 69 and 68 percent respectively whilst the Bearded Vulture continues its upward population trend, increasing by a rate of 17 percent over the last two years. This illustrates the fantastic efforts by organisations across France and investment from local and national governments and the European Union. Whilst these populations are growing in France, the Egyptian Vulture’s population in the country has remained static, due to the pressures this migratory vulture faces across its flyway.
Testing lead free ammunition
The ingestion of animal remains killed using lead ammunition whilst not being immediately lethal to vultures and other birds of prey can have significant impact if they are exposed over a long period of time, leading to lead poisoning that for example increases the risks of collision with electricity infrastructure.
As part of the LIFE GypConnect project the National Park of Cévennes, in collaboration with the Departmental Federation of Hunters of Lozère tested the use of lead-free ammunition for hunting over two seasons in 2017/18 and 2018/19. 51 hunters volunteered to use lead-free ammunition and after using it were asked how about their experiences. Almost all hunters were satisfied with the results in terms of accuracy and impact on deer. This is a great example of collaboration between conservationists and hunters to make a positive impact on vultures, showing there are alternatives to lead.
Second French National Action Plan for Cinereous Vultures
Running between 2011 and 2016, the National Action Plan for Cinereous Vultures outlined conservation actions to help the species recover in France. The review of that Action Plan was presented to the Direction Régionale de l’Evironnement de l’Aménagement in November 2018 and can be downloaded below:
National Action Plan for Cinereous Vultures 2011-2016 (French) Cinereous Vulture Action Plan 2011-2016. Adobe Acrobat Document 2.1 MB Download Review of the National Action Plan for Cinereous Vultures 2011-2016 (French) Review of Cinereous Vulture Action Plan Adobe Acrobat Document 1.2 MB Download
Following the presentation of these results in February 2019 to France’s Conseil National de la Protection de la Nature over 2019 a new 10 year National Action Plan will be drawn up.