Reducing illegal bird killing of migratory birds and vultures in the Mediterranean

Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project

Project period2018-2020
Project areaMediterannean
Target speciesCinereous Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Bearded Vulture

Every year across the Mediterranean, millions of birds are illegally killed during their migratory journey. Illegal Killing of Birds (IKB) is a large-scale project based on international partnership and cross-border collaboration working towards minimizing the killing of birds across the Mediterranean over the course of three years. Partners develop and implement international, national and local conservation actions to protect flagship avian threatened species, including vultures, from getting shot, trapped or poisoned in the region.

The main threats concerning vultures include wildlife poisoning, and on a lesser extent poaching. For instance, Europe’s only long-distance migratory vulture, the Egyptian Vulture, carries out an epic journey, travelling across three continents in the east, facing several threats depending on the regions. In some areas in the Balkans, it is threatened by illegal wildlife trafficking — young chicks and eggs are often stolen while older birds fall victim to trophy hunting. These threats have adverse effects on the species population. In Europe, its population dropped by 50% in the past 50 years, while in the Balkans, it has decreased by 80% over 30 years.


Funded by the MAVA Foundation,  the IKB works across several countries, raising awareness among key stakeholders, training enforcement agencies and improving enforcement on particular black spots, and lobbying for strengthening environmental protection legislation and regulations.


Carrying out new vulture surveys in Morocco, Spain and Turkey, and developing a vulture mortality database to determine key-related threats and take appropriate action. 


Contributing to international, national and local awareness-raising campaigns to end the illegal killing of birds, by continuously highlighting the issues and providing solutions through the VCF’s communication channels.


Working in collaboration with hunting organisations to advocate for responsible hunting practice, notably through the promotion and provision of lead-free ammunition. 

Hervé PICQ / Cévennes National Park


Reviewing existing hunting laws and advising government agencies on improvements, while working with partners to change laws where hunting and/or nature legislation was inadequate.


Supporting the establishment of effective ‘environmental police’ units and networks by proving successful training to build capacity among relevant wildlife crime authorities. 

© Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project

The Safe Flyways IKB is a partnership between BirdLife InternationalEuronatur, The IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation and the Vulture Conservation Foundation.

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