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The guirre blues – or the song of the Canary islands Egyptian vulture

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Éramos miles, pero todo cambio

Planear planear con su voleó circular

Pájaro solar con su crista divertida

Soaring, soaring, with its circular flight

The sun bird, with its funny crest

We were thousand, but everything changed

Wonderfully inspiring video produced by a local studio in the Canary Islands about the Guirre, an endangered, sedentary subspecies of Egyptian vulture, with a small population of +270 individuals occurring presently only in Fuerteventura (90% of the population) and Lanzarote. Over the last few years the subspecies has been slowly recovering, which gives hope that someday it may be restored on the other Canary Islands where it went extinct. 

The Guirre has increased from 21 occupied territories in 1998 to 62 in 2016 (around 5% annual increase!). This remarkable population recovery is the result of the continuous and solid efforts of local authorities and electric companies to minimize the main threats for the species – notably electrocution.  Many pylons have been modified, thus reducing the mortality by electrocution, but this is still the main factor of non-natural mortality – work to modify dangerous pylons continue. 

Mortality due to poisoned baits has almost disappeared (it was important before 2008), but there is still an important risk of mortality through lead poisoning (from hunting ammunition).  

All these threats – poison with poison baits, electrocution and lead poisoning – have been identified as major vulture killers in the recently approved Vulture Multispecies Action Plan (MsAP) Work being done in the Canary Islands is certainly establishing good practice that could be followed elsewhere, and will contribute already to the objectives of the Vulture MsAP.

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