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LIFE RUPIS – An analysis of poisoning cases in the Spanish side of the Douro canyon

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The use of poison is one of the main causes of unnatural mortality in vultures, also in the Iberian Peninsula. The use of poison baits has been illegal for more than three decades, but unfortunately continues to be a relatively frequent practice, primarily for the control of predators.

As part of the LIFE RUPIS project, the Natural Park Arribes del Duero and the Fundación del Patrimonio Natural de Castilla y León have recently compiled all known cases of poisoning that occurred on the Spanish side of the transboundary protected area (1.070 km2) between 1997 and the present. A similar analysis had been completed for the Portuguese side some time ago.

For this report a total of 647 poisoning incidents registered for the provinces of Zamora and Salamanca were analyzed. Of these, 34 have occurred in the Arribes Natural Park.

The main species impacted there have been Egyptian vultures (5 confirmed, up to 10 individuals poisoned) and red kites (7 confirmed, up to 9 individuals poisoned), and to a lesser extent black and griffon vultures (see graph).

The average number of cases of poisoning in the Natural Park Arribes is 1.52 ± 1.87 per year (range: 0-6 poisoning cases/year). Within the protected area, one can detect a certain concentration of poisoning cases in the Sayago region of Zamora and in the northwest of Salamanca (see map).

As for the most commonly used toxic substances, carbamate insecticides such as aldicarb (60%) and carbofuran (327%) are preponderant. You can download the report below.

The project LIFE RUPIS aims to strength the populations of Egyptian Vulture in Douro International valley, through improved breeding success and reduction of mortality, and implemented by the VCF and partners, including SPEA (BirdLife in Portugal), ATN and Palombar (regional conservation organisations in NE Portugal), the Junta de Castilla y Leon & the Fundación Patrimonio Natural de Castilla Y León, the Portuguese electricity distributor EDP-D, the Portuguese statutory conservation agency ICNF and the Portuguese environmental police force (GNR). The project is tackling the most important threats to Egyptian vultures, namely food shortages, degradation of the habitat, electrocution risk and the illegal use of poison

The Egyptian vulture is Europe’s most threatened vulture species – classified as “Endangered” at global level. While the three others European vulture species are registering positive trends across Europe, Egyptian vultures continue to decline in most regions in the continent (and elsewhere).

Download An analysis of the incidence of poison in the Arribes Natural Park (in Spanish) A6_veneno_Arribes_del_Duero_Rupis.pdf Adobe Acrobat Document 1.1 MB Download

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