Necrophagous birds are an important component for socio-economic terms. Both for the sanitary role they play in rural landscapes by eliminating animal carcasses and by-products, and for being tourist attractions. It’s imperative to protect them.
In Portugal, the status of necrophagous birds is generally vulnerable and one of they ways to tackle the various conservation issues is through the recently published Action Plan for the Conservation of Necrophagous Birds in Diário da República. Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas (ICNF) prepared the action plan in coordination with the Direção-Geral de Alimentação e Veterinária (DGAV). The plan was developed with the contributions of necrophagous bird experts and non-governmental organizations. The document was also subject to consultation with several public and private entities from 11 to 30 June 2015.
Impact on the necrophagous birds of Portugal
After studying the status of each scavenger bird species in Portugal, experts identified the necessary measures to promote their conservation and developed the plan. It has a particularly important impact on the two vulture species with permanent populations in Portugal that have a threatening status: the Egyptian Vulture, classified as ‘Endangered’, and the Cinereous Vulture, classified as ‘Critically Endangered’. However, the recommended measures could also have positive repercussions on other species with strict or partially scavenging habits, contributing to their recovery and conservation. For example, the action plan could help reverse the regression of the Red kite nesting population, which partially adopts scavenging behaviour, and is classified as ‘Critically Endangered’.
Ensuring the recovery of necrophagous birds
The action plan aims to guarantee the recovery and conservation of necrophagous birds in Portugal. One way is by increasing the distribution area of the Cinereous Vulture nesting population at the Tagus International zones in Moura, Mourão and Barrancos. For the Egyptian Vulture, the plan aims to maintain the number of couples and the distribution area of the national population, as well as increasing their productivity in the northeast of the country by reducing unnatural mortality, disturbance and habitat loss. Another vital objective is to reduce the lack of knowledge and awareness of society and relevant stakeholders in the conservation of necrophagous birds.
In short, the plan will promote the nesting and breeding success of threatened necrophagous birds by increasing food availability, reducing unnatural mortality, bridging the knowledge and awareness gap, monitoring their populations and pushing for the formation of policy measures.
We are glad to see the ambitious ways the plan aims to protect and restore the population of the necrophagous bird species in Portugal. We hope the action plan will contribute towards the successful conservation of these threatened species in the country.