The Egyptian vulture is Europe’s only long-distance migratory vulture. Flying up to 640 km per day, it can travel 5000 km when migrating between its European breeding sites and its wintering grounds at the southern edge of the Sahara.
On this epic journey across three continents, the Egyptian vulture meets one danger after another. Those that escape being electrocuted by power lines or poisoned by lethal farming chemicals may still fall victim to illegal shooting.
The European population alone has fallen by up to 50% in the last 50 years, and the Balkan population has decreased by 80% in the last 30 years.
To raise awareness about the plight of the Egyptian vulture, and the rest of our Magnificent Seven, a breathtaking event was held on the 18th of June 2019, on the Mother Teresa Square of the Albanian capital of Tirana. The outside walls of the Polytechnic University of Tirana projected the ‘Flight for Survival’ campaign to citizens, and the Albanian Ornithological Society was in place to share details about bird migration in general, and the threats that these birds face specifically along their flyways. The event was held in the framework of the EU-funded LIFE project “Egyptian Vulture New LIFE” and the “Combating Illegal Killing and Taking of Birds in Albania” project.
The projection lasted several hours, and it was the first time for many to hear about the threats the Magnificent Seven face during their bi-annual migration: illegal shooting, poisoning, electrocution and collisions to name a few.
The situation for Egyptian vultures in Albania is highly critical. With only five pairs and four individuals in the south of Albania, the threats they face can be detrimental to the entire population. Alongside electrocution and habitat destruction, these vultures risk becoming the victims of poisoned baits laid out for carnivores like wolves.
In order to combat this, prevent this major threat, PPNEA – Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania, has built two supplementary feeding stations in which safe food is provided for the #MagnificentVulture. Supplementary feeding is being implemented across the Balkan Peninsula where the Egyptian vulture is still breeding, to help their recovery. There are only 45 breeding pairs in the entire Balkan region. With the help of camera traps, we are delighted to see that this initiative is paying off, and vultures are finally eating healthy and safe meals regularly.
Photos: © PPNEA, BSPB, LIFE, Natura2000, A.G. Leventis Found