Two black vultures found dead in Rhodopes region in Greece probably due to poison baits

Two black vultures were found dead in Rhodopes region in Greece probably due to poison baits last week. Еarly December, the anti-poison team of WWF Greece, Ela and Kiko, received a call from the Management Body of Dadia National Park about a Black vulture tagged with a satellite transmitter¹ which had been sending out repeated signals from the very same position.

The only colony of the Black vulture on the Balkans is located in the National Park of the Dadia-Soufli-Lefkimi forest in the Greek part of the Rhodope Mountains.
Markus Varesvuo/Wild Wonders of Europe

The rare vulture was located around 30 km north-west from the boundaries of the National Park, close to a village named Tsouka in Rhodopes region, where the WWF team and the representatives of Dadia Management Body moved immediately, in order to find out what happened. As always, Kiko started doing his work immediately, sniffing and searching around for any important clue that would lead him to the mystery’s solution. Only a few minutes later, Kiko found a dead black vulture but with not any transmitter on its back. The team directly thought that the cause of the black vulture’s death was related unfortunately to human interference, and specifically, to poison baits. Kiko didn’t stop the searching, he kept looking for more answers, leading the entire team on the opposite side of the hill, where another dead black vulture was lying dead, having this time a satellite transmitter on its back. Besides the two black vultures, the remains of two dead livestock (goat and sheep) were found, which most probably were carrying the poison bait that was consumed by scavengers, including the two black vultures.

Екипът от Дирекцията на Национален парк Дадя и екипа на WWF Гърция за борба с отровите.
Снимка: (с) L. Sidiropoulos

Every time that WWF Greece’s anti-poison team tracks dead animals, especially rare vultures we feel very sad, since we witness the poisoning of the nature itself and our country’s wildlife.  This time, our sorrow was even bigger, as we knew the black vulture carrying the satellite transmitter. It was registered many years ago, its name was “Evros” after the region where we live and work in, it was 19 years old and according to the Dadia Management Body’s researchers, Evros had significantly contributed to the black vultures’ threatened population, by breeding almost every year.

The successful handling of this case was partially supported by the high-end technology of the satellite transmitters that are used for the name of science, sending out to scientists an important piece of information about the black vultures living in the wider area. However, an even more decisive “tool” that led to that was the experience, the professionalism and … the infallible nose of Kiko, without which it would not be possible to locate the second dead black vultures. Following the handling of the case, the Management Body of Dadia National Park will collaborate with all competent institutions responsible for the necessary toxicological analysis, in order to define the precise reason of the black vultures’ death.

This action, namely the tracking of wounded or dead vultures (griffon vultures or black vultures) is part of the LIFE project entitled “Conservation of Black and Griffon cultures in the cross-border Rhodopes mountains” (LIFE RE-VULTURES). The following URL link contains more information about the program www.life-vultures.com.

¹ In the frame of two projects Operational Program “Environment and Sustainable Development” (NSRF 2007-2013) and LIFE «Conservation of Black and Griffon vultures in the cross-border Rhodopes mountains» (LIFE RE-VULTURES) 8 and 20 Black vultures have been fitted with the satellites transmitters respectively by the Management Body of the Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli Forest National Park.

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