Back in 2008 on the Iberia Nature forum we started a topic about the use of Diclofenac in Asia and, as the drug was about to be used in Europe, it stayed in the Spain sections rather than going in the “other places” boards… And it seems with good reason. If you fancy trawling through the wealth of information about this subject then the main topic is here.
Apart from this amazing topic on the forum pretty much everything you need to know now about this disgusting drug proven to kill vultures in their millions can be found over at the Vulture foundation…. Loads of papers and up to date news…
As the deadline for a final decision by the EU Commission on banning veterinary diclofenac approaches, vultures really need you.
Veterinary diclofenac is extremely toxic to vultures, and has been banned from the Indian subcontinent after causing a 95-99% decline of several vulture species there. Incredibly, it has been approved for use on livestock in Italy and Spain.
The Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF) has been leading a campaign, together with other organisations, to ban this drug in Europe too: given the existence of a non-toxic alternative (Meloxicam), common sense suggests a precautionary approach should be taken.
We had therefore asked the EU Commission to start a procedure for the withdrawal of an authorized veterinary medicinal drug which affects Community interests, Under Article 35 of Veterinary Medicines Directive (2001/82/EC). You can see more details about veterinary diclofenac, its impacts, and the whole campaign, here
I just came across this fairly amazing website with very much up to date information and research into Western Europes Bonelli’s Eagle populations. The latest studies are showing that the population in Northern Spain is at greatest risk.
The studies, based long-term monitoring of Bonelli’s Eagle populations in the Iberian Peninsula have revealed demographic relationships among different populations and has provided an insight into population dynamics in Western Europe.
The Bonelli’s Eagle (Aquila fasciata) is one of the most typical -and most endangered – raptors of the Mediterranean region and the Conservation Biology Group of the University of Barcelona (UB) has been researching this species Since 1980 perhaps the most amazing thing of all is the website is in English and all of the studies are freely available to read.
With the latest news coming from Zamora that includes a Spanish Imperial eagle, amongst other carrion birds, killed from the consequences of poisoning, I thought I’d have a search around the net for similar news and information.
The Vulture Conservation Council has an interesting page explaining the use of poisons that has affected Spanish Vultures.
A large number of vulture deaths in Europe can be attributed every year to poisoning, arguably the most important threat impacting on vultures today. Figures from Spain are illustrative – data from the Spanish ministry of agriculture show that between the years 2000 and 2010 a total of 40 bearded vultures, 638 black vultures, 348 Egyptian vultures and 2,146 griffon vultures were found poisoned. (The recent extinction of the bearded vulture in the Balkan Peninsula was largely due to extensive poisoning campaigns against wolves and jackals.) Read the rest of this entry
Unbelievably, this news comes as a surprise to many vets, biologists and very experienced people working in the world of Spanish wildlife. Diclofenac is a powerful anti-inflammatory drug that has wiped out vulture populations in India, Pakistan and Nepal. Now, a repeat of this ecological disaster is threatening Europe. Despite the fact that safe alternative drugs are readily available, Diclofenac has been authorised for use on domestic animals in Italy, and in Spain where 80% of European vultures live, and is now becoming widely available on the EU market. According to experts in SEO/BirdLife (BirdLife in Spain), RSPB (BirdLife UK) and the Vulture Conservation Foundation, this may cause a European mass die off of endangered and ecologically valuable wildlife….
The reintroduction programme which was begun in 2003 of the osprey in Andalucia is proving a success. This year the nine pairs of osprey have raised 31 chicks. Now the Andalusian government plans to use the birds to attract tourists, following the UK examples of a Welsh observation post, Rutland Water and Sutherland in luring visitors. More in El País
Charming three-minute video from a tower block in Vall Hebrón in Barcelona of kestrels being raised in a window box for flowers . The pair of kestrels have been raising chicks for the last seven years in the same place. The kestrels have chosen a good home and the flat owner has even dedicated a poem to them. My friend Sergi Garcia explains why tower blocks are such a good environment for kestrels.
More than 200 puffins have been found dead along the coasts of Asturias and Cantabria in the last six weeks. SEO/Birdlife, who are unsure as to the cause, suspect the real figure could be in the thousands. More here
Vultures in Catalonia are being increasingly spotted on the roads in search of roadkill, because of the paucity of their traditional sources of dead livestock: The EU prohibuts abandoning animal cacrasses because of mad cow’s disease. The above photo from La Vanguardia is along the N-230 between Lleida and Val d’Aran.
Nice, short video of a lammergeyer (bearded vulture – Gypaetus barbatus) swallowing a bone. The images were recorded in Tremp, in the Pyrenees at “La Terret” observatory. Sent to me by recercaenaccio.cat.
Fascinating article in BMC Evolutionary Biologyon the role of humans in helping the expansion of the Egyptian Vulture (Alimoche in Spanish, guirre in the Canaries) and its remarkably fast evolution into a sub-species (Neophron percnopterus majorensis).
Archaeological remains show that first colonizers were Berber people from northern Africa who imported goats. This new and abundant food source could have allowed vultures to colonize, expand and adapt to the island environment. Our results suggest that anthropogenic environmental change can induce diversification and that this process may take place on an ecological time scale (less than 200 generations), even in the case of a long-lived species. Full article here
N. p. majorensis, the Canarian Egyptian Vulture, the largest subspecies with by far the smallest and most restricted population, is found only in the eastern Canary Islands where they are known by the name of guirre. Described as a new subspecies only in 2002, studies suggest that it is more genetically distant from N. p. percnopterus than N. p. ginginianus is. Unlike neighbouring populations in Africa and southern Europe, they are not migratory and are consistently larger in size. The name majorensis is derived from “Majorata”, the ancient name for the island of Fuerteventura. The island was named by Spanish conquerors in the 15th century after the “Majos”, the main native Guanche tribe there. A study suggests that the species colonized the island around 2500 years ago and the establishment of the population may have been aided by human colonization.
The population in the Canary Islands have been isolated from populations in Europe and Africa for a significant period of time and have declined greatly and are of particular concern due to their genetic distinctiveness. The Canarian Egyptian Vulture was historically common, occurring on the islands of La Gomera, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. It is now restricted to Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, the two easternmost islands. The total population in 2000 was estimated at about 130 individuals, including 25–30 breeding pairs. The island birds appear to be more susceptible to infections. Island birds appear to accumulate significant amounts of lead from scavenging on hunted animal carcasses and the long-term effect of this poison at a sublethal level is not known although it alters the mineralization of their bones. In order to provide safe and uncontaminated food for nesting birds, attempts have been made to create “vulture restaurants” where carcasses are made available. These interventions however may also encourage opportunist predators and scavengers to concentrate at the site and pose a threat to nesting birds in the vicinity
It’s a worldwide phenomenon – whether bears investigating trash cans in the US, coyotes roaming New York, or boars exploring Barcelona – wildlife and human territories are increasingly overlapping. Near Vallvidrera railway station, on the outskirts of Barcelona, a mother boar availed herself of the contents of a litter bin in broad daylight. While two […]