Latest victims of irresponsible human activities

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The dead Cinereous vulture (c) Colectivo Azálvaro
The dead Cinereous vulture (c) Colectivo Azálvaro

Three Griffon Vultures and one Cinereous Vulture met a tragic end due to ignorant human activities. In addition to the dead vultures, another Cinereous Vulture was found alive but had an injury on its right wing. They discovered the vultures in the Ávila-Norte Waste Treatment Center (CTR) in Spain.

What affected the vultures?

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that protected birds die in the CTR Ávila Norte. Right now, works are being undertaken to expand the landfill, and this has caused new cases of mortality for birds and other animals in the area. The environmental organisation Colectivo Azálvaro resumed environmental monitoring and reporting campaigns in the vicinity, and that’s when they discovered the three Griffon Vultures and one Cinereous vulture carcasses as well as another injured Cinereous Vulture.

The Colectivo Azálvaro shared their concerns of the new landfill stating, “Far from doing something to control the damage to protected species and to put effective measures to avoid them, the CTR is immersed in works that never end and, what is worse, they will not end with the two most serious mortality problems that this installation generates: the deaths in power lines and the deaths of birds due to the ingestion of toxic products and plastics. The continued mortality of protected birds in the CTR Ávila Norte does not stop, indeed, it seems to have increased and threatens to increase even more in the absence of vigilance and preventive measures in the works of the new landfill.”

The injured Cinereous vulture (c) Colectivo Azálvaro
The injured Cinereous vulture (c) Colectivo Azálvaro

And this is the case with the affected vultures as they suspect the deaths were caused by the ingestion of some toxic product or plastics. These substances accumulate in the vultures’ digestive tract, causing injuries and death due to digestive obstruction. The wing injury of the Cinereous vulture was possibly caused by collision with the overhead power line that supplies energy and passes in flight inside of the landfill.

The new landfill and vultures

Vulture carcasses at the landfill (c) Colectivo Azálvaro
Vulture carcasses at the landfill (c) Colectivo Azálvaro

The authorisation of the landfill expansion was approved over a year and a half ago, but the consequences of the electric line have not been taken into consideration, according to the president of the Colectivo Azálvaro, José Aguilera.

He also adds that since the protected species carcasses were found in different stages of decomposition in the vicinity of the landfill, this further indicates “the lack of effectiveness and/or results of the surveillance program established in the design, execution and construction phase.” This is a critical issue as the scavengers continue to go to the landfill by hundreds, making them vulnerable to ingest toxic substances just like the four vultures that died. He further asserts that the company managing CTR should dispose of the dumping of garbage in containers covered and inaccessible to the birds to avoid such instances.

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