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Planning towards safeguarding Egyptian vultures across the eastern Flyway (Balkans, Turkey & Central Asia, Middle East and Africa)

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The VCF has this week contributed and co-facilitated a workshop to develop an international species action plan for the Egyptian vulture eastern flyway – covering the breeding populations in Balkans, Turkey, Caucasus, Central Asia and the Middle East, and their respective flyway to winter in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

The meeting was organized by the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron” (http://www.lifeneophron.eu/) and the Coordinating Unit (CU) of the Raptors MoU under the Convention of Migratory Species (CMS), and gathered 65 experts from more than 30 countries in Sofia, Bulgaria, between 6 and 8 July.

The Egyptian vulture is considered globally endangered, and is and the only long-distance migrant within European vultures. It is also the most endangered European vulture, which has been rapidly declining within its range and especially on the Balkans where the population has decreased by over 80% in the last 30 years. The Eurasian population is migratory spending the winter (almost half of the year – from October to March) in Africa. The immature birds are also spending the first two-three years of their life in Africa before returning to the breeding grounds. Most of the European population is believed to winter in the Sahel zone, with recent evidences that the Balkan population is wintering in Eastern Sahel (mainly Chad and Sudan, but also Nigeria, Niger, Ethiopia) and even in Yemen. The main reasons for the species are poisoning, electrocution, and direct persecution.

Given the vast range, and the migratory habits, the conservation of this species depends on the establishment of an international, coordinated. cooperation effort – hence the need for this International Flyway Action Plan, which we hope will be a pivotal tool to guide the international coordination of conservation measures directed at this species.

The workshop thrashed out the main threats affecting this species along the flyway, prioritised them, and developed a set of actions needed to correct those. Soon a first draft of the international flyway plan will be published – watch this space!

The VCF would like to thank the Raptors MoU and the LIFE project Return of the Neophron for all the excellent organisation and support.

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