Egyptian Vulture in Douro International valley
The dogs used are two Belgian Mallinois sheeps dogs, each one with their own police trainer, and will be deployed soon in the area of the project, that includes the Special Protection Zone of the International Douro and the Rio Águeda Valley.
These poison detection binomials will hopefully control and prevent the illegal use of poison in the area to control predators. Its objectives are
• Preventive: the regular use of dogs over a wide area usually has a deterrent impact;
• Reactive: in order to verify situations where corpses of wild or domestic animals are found with signs of poisoning;
Criminal: facilitating the opening of criminal proceedings in cases of illegal use of poison, towards the identification and punishment of the poisoners.
The project LIFE RUPIS, which aims to strength the populations of Egyptian Vulture in Douro International valley, through improved breeding success and reduction of mortality, and implemented by the VCF and partners, including SPEA (BirdLife in Portugal), ATN and Palombar (regional conservation organisations in NE Portugal), the Junta de Castilla y Leon & the Fundación Patrimonio Natural de Castilla Y León, the Portuguese electricity distributor EDP-D, the Portuguese statutory conservation agency ICNF and the Portuguese environmental police force (GNR). The project is tackling the most important threats to Egyptian vultures, namely food shortages, degradation of the habitat, electrocution risk and the illegal use of poison
The Egyptian vulture is Europe’s most threatened vulture species – classified as “Endangered” at global level. While the three others European vulture species are registering positive trends across Europe, Egyptian vultures continue to decline in most regions in the continent (and elsewhere).
Photos: Bruno Berthémy/VCF & GNR
This article was first published by the Vulture Conservation Foundation 6 March 2017