Africa’s Vultures are being Threatened By An Assault on All Fronts. Vultures are being killed on an unprecedented scale across Africa, with the latest slaughter perpetrated by elephant poachers who poison the scavenging birds so they won’t give away the location of their activities. In several West African countries, some species of vultures have declined 98 percent outside of protected areas.
When they arrived at South Africa’s Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, André Botha and his companions found that an elephant had died just inside the reserve’s fence. But instead of vultures and other scavengers tussling for their piece of the ecological bonanza, there was only eerie silence. The carcasses of 37 African white-backed vultures lay in the grass around the elephant.
The corpse of White-backed vultures all found poisoned
Continue reading African Vultures are now more endangered than Rhinos
Tom Buckley was overjoyed. Earlier this year the retired environmental scientist proudly documented the first family of beavers living wild in England since the species was hunted to near extinction in Britain several hundred years ago—a discovery that came almost by accident.
Continue reading Beavers are mysteriously back in Britain – will this be another species Natural England will not welcome?
Fortunately the bird was successfully rehabilitated and released back into the wild, but the incident is even more worrying now that warning shots against vultures have been authorized in parts of France.
Layrou, a young male Bearded Vulture, born in 2013 at the Guadalentín specialized captive breeding center (Andalusia, Spain) and released in June 2013 in Aveyron, together with a second nestling, as part of the reintroduction project in the Grands Causses, was found injured and extremely weak on the Lot region in France on the 16th of June 2014, after making a trip to Bretagne, and when he was on his way back to the Grands Causses.
All released birds in the reintroduction project are marked with a GPS tag, which allows researchers to follow the birds daily and know their exact location. It was due to this tag that the team from LPO Grands Causses and Parc national des Cévennes went to search for Layrou, after realizing that the bird was not moving.
Layrou was immediately transferred to a specialized veterinary in Toulouse, and the X-rays showed that it had been shot in the left wing. Fortunately the ammunition did not injure any flight muscle, but caused lead poisoning. As soon as Layrou recovered a little bit of weight, the projectile could be extracted. The bird was later transferred to a small field aviary in Cassagnes (historical Griffon Vultures reintroduction site) to gain weight and heal its wing.
After five weeks of convalescence, Layrou could be re-released on the 23rd of July 2014 at the release site in Lozère (near Meyrueis), where two young birds, Jacinthe and Adonis, had been released this year, equipped with a new GPS tag. His movements can be followed on the LPO web site (http://rapaces.lpo.fr/gypaete-grands-causses/le-suivi-des-oiseaux). The recovery of Layrou was only possible due to great coordination between the LPO Grands Causes, the veterinaries and the experts from VCF, who have worked round the clock to guarantee that the bird had the best conditions.
The LPO and the Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage have started an investigation to try to identify the author of this unacceptable and illegal action, and the LPO has initiated a civil action. The intent to destroy protected species in France can be punished with a prison sentence (up to one year) and a large fine (up to 15,000€).
It is unacceptable to find that bearded vultures are still shot at in France. This incident is even more worrying and disturbing now, at a time when some sectors in the French farming sector are asking to control large mammals and vultures in some areas in the Pyrenees, due to the their alleged impact on their livelihoods. Last week the French state has announced it will allow warning shots to be used against vultures as an experimental measure to evaluate its impact on preventing the alleged attacks of griffon vultures on live cattle – never demonstrated or documented in a solid way.
If bearded vultures are still being shot at when the species is fully protected, and has received great conservation effort and attention, in well-known reintroduction projects in the Alps and the Grands Causses, one can only fear what will happen with some form of direct vulture targeting is allowed legally in mountain areas where bearded vultures and griffon vultures fly freely.
The VCF is continuing to engage with French conservation organizations, government agencies and other public bodies to contribute to the resolution of this issue.
This story was first published by the Vulture Conservation Foundation
Already we have seen a number of this year’s young harriers leaving Langholm for pastures new. Annie one of two tagged harriers is reported to have flown 85 km across the border into Northumberland and is currently residing SW of Wooler. It appears that so far there has been no available data from Sid’s satellite tag, the second tagged harrier. We eagerly await to learn of the whereabouts of Sid in due course. What has been achieved at Langholm this year just goes to show what can happen when persecution is eliminated completely. No one,even members of the shooting industry, should have any lingering doubts about that. We do feel however that by failing to satellite tag all 47 Langholm chicks a golden opportunity has been missed.
Steve Murphy the National Hen Harrier Coordinator fitting a satellite tag to a hen harrier chick
Continue reading Hen Harrier: was a golden opportunity lost by not satellite tagging all harriers at Langholm this season?
Police in North Wales are appealing for the assistance of the public after it was confirmed that a Peregrine Falcon had been found poisoned in June. Rural Crime Team manager Sgt Rob Taylor said: “The death of a female Peregrine Falcon in a quarry in Penmaenmawr in June has been confirmed as having been poisoned and we are appealing for the public’s assistance in catching the offender.”
Continue reading North Wales Police report Peregrine found poisoned
Landmark court sentence good news to curb the growing illegal trade on birds of prey. In July a Belgium court sentenced four people to heavy prison sentences and fines, after it found them guilty of illegal trade in protected and endangered birds, including vultures. The case is the result of a long and judicial inquiry, including international legal cooperation between Belgium, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Germany, Austria and The Netherlands. Why won’t courts here in the UK hand down penalties like this for those that kill out protected birds of prey, never mind illegally trading in them?
Continue reading Well known vulture and raptor traders imprisoned by Belgium court
The Vulture Conservation Foundation says the Bearded Vulture is recovering in Europe, but globally it is still declining.
This IUCN has up-listed the bearded vulture from Least Concern to Near Threatened at global level – mostly because of declines in Africa and Asia. In Europe, the VCF is actively restoring the populations and range. This early summer nine birds have been released.
The paper and introduction below are all based upon a scientific study undertaken on Langholm moor by Arjun Amar, Simon Thirgood, James Pearce-Higgins and Steve Redpath. The paper was first published in August 2008 and in lay-man’s terms it examines over an 8 year period the effect of predation by specific raptors (hen harrier, peregrine and merlin) on upland passerines and waders. The paper’s finding are significant because they undermine claims made by individuals like Robin Page, Vicount Ridley, Alex Hogg and Robert Benson who had each inferred predation by raptors such as Hen Harrier, had an adverse influence on lapwing, curlew and golden plover.
Continue reading Scientific Paper concludes concerns over the impact of natural densities of hen harriers on vulnerable upland waders are unjustified.
This week the Cumbrian News published yet another propaganda broadside by the shooting industry, this time from Robert Benson, the Moorland Association’s Cumbria based Chairman who tells us that science can break the deadlock between grouse shooting and conservation. The proposal is based upon a study suggesting that, under certain conditions, a shooting and conservation compromise could be found to sort this long standing conflict out. Led by Professor Steve Redpath from the University of Aberdeen, the study showed that at certain densities harriers can co-exist with profitable grouse shooting. “The model envisaged suggests that across the grouse moors of England there was room for 70 pairs of hen harrier at a relatively low cost for grouse shooting” professor Redpath said. The new figure of 75 pairs appears at odds with generally accepted scientific understanding that there is sufficient suitable heather habitat in England’s northern uplands to support 320 pairs of hen harriers. What about the additional 245 pairs, are we expected to simply forget about these additional pairs to fit in with the new proposal?
Anyone reading Robert Benson’s article would be forgiven thinking the shooting industry together with the gamekeeper, are the new messiah arriving in the nick of time to save the hen harrier from extinction. Consider also that Mr Benson took the trouble to remind everyone that the country’s first hen harrier chicks for two years had recently fledged in north Lancashire -two of three successful nests on grouse managed land producing 11 young. What Mr Benson failed once again to explain, two of the nests on moorland maintained by gamekeepers had to be protected 24/7 to ensure the chicks fledged successfully, whereas the single third successful nest located on moorland in Cumbria was not maintained by gamekeepers.
Continue reading The shooting industry and their gamekeepers are the new Hen Harrier messiah