An extinction in progress


WARNING: UNFINISHED ARTICLE

 

Wind farms pushing Egyptian vulture towards

extinction in Europe

Hopefully, this article will be completed by the end of February 2018.

Please bear with us.

 

Save the Eagles International has been blowing the whistle against bird slicing wind turbines since its foundation in 2011, and I personally since 2002. Most ornithologists, affected by conflicts of interest, have been denying all along that species of rare birds could face extinction because of the apparition of wind farms in their environment. Sadly, new findings prove they were wrong.

1) A study warns that adding wind farms to the habitat of endangered avian scavengers may tip their species into extinction.


In 2015, a peer-reviewed study of a population of Egyptian vultures in Southern Spain started by saying: “Large body-sized avian scavengers, including the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), are globally threatened due to human-related mortality”.http://digital.csic.es/bitstream/10261/114477/1/Sanz-Aguilar%20et%20al%202015%20Egyptian%20Vulture%20_%20Biol%20Cons%20Accepted%20version.pdf


Then, the abstract stated their findings regarding a regional population of Egyptian vultures they had studied:

“Population viability analyses estimated an annual decline of 3–4% of the breeding population under current conditions. Our results indicate that only by combining different management actions in the breeding area, especially by removing the most important causes of human-related mortality (poisoning and collisions on wind farms), will the population grow and persist in the long term. Reinforcement with captive breeding may also have positive effects but only in combination with the reduction in causes of non-natural mortality.” Full study: http://digital.csic.es/bitstream/10261/114477/1/Sanz-Aguilar%20et%20al%202015%20Egyptian%20Vulture%20_%20Biol%20Cons%20Accepted%20version.pdf


In other words: if the causes of the decline are not removed, extinction will follow. But how can we control poisoning? Spanish authorities have fought the poisoners for decades, mainly hunters and farmers who lace carcasses with poison to kill foxes and other predators. Their fight must therefore continue, with added resources allocated to enforcement.


Dismantling entirely those wind farms that kill Egyptian vultures can and should be done. Removing only the most deadly turbines may not bring the expected results because the next in line is then likely to become the killer.


In any event, there is NO EXCUSE for installing NEW wind farms in the distribution range of these birds, let alone their breeding areas; neither is it acceptable to  REPOWER ageing installations with new turbines. But sadly, this is precisely what has been done.

2) A recent article shows that the Andalusian government tried mitigation measures instead, and failed.


“The Andalusian population of Egyptian vultures suffered a sustained decline in the last decades: half of its breeding pairs have been lost since the year 2000. They are now down to 23, according to the last census of the government of Andalusia.”http://savetheeaglesinternational.org/new/windfarms-to-cause-an-extinction.html


This is a staggering decline, and two conservation groups accuse: “the government of Andalusia has not taken any action to avoid the enormous loss of biodiversity caused by wind turbines.”


“They criticized the ineffectiveness of the corrective and compensatory measures of these wind farms, such as on-site monitoring to slow down the turbines when birds are flying in their vicinity, and expressed doubts about official mortality figures.”


“They also criticized the fact that Andalusia continues to authorize new wind farms, and the repowering of old ones, within or near bird SPAs (Special Protection Areas), despite its explicit prohibition by European legislation.”


“Finally, they questioned the validity of studies aimed at minimizing the impact of wind farms, or the existence of “intelligent” wind turbines which would avoid the collision of birds. Such works are indeed financed by wind and electricity companies, and entities accused of conflict of interest.”
It is all pretty clear: the Egyptian Vulture will soon go extinct in Andalusia because of wind farms.


Another case in point: Extremadura has just authorized its first wind farm. It will be built less than 5 km from the nest of a breeding pair of Egyptian vultures, within the range of 30 more pairs and of 500 wintering, also endangered red kites! We have denounced this crime to the EU Parliament, where we have a petition pending, unresolved since 2011. So don’t hold your breath.

3) Other species are facing a similar fate.


In the study quoted in section #1 above, we read:
“These results, although obtained for a focal species, may be applicable to other endangered populations of long-lived avian scavengers inhabiting southern Europe.” 

In Southern Europe, other threatened populations of long-lived avian scavengers are:

Bearded vulture  (full-time scavenger – listed as “endangered” in Spain)

Black Vulture   (full-time scavenger – listed as ”vulnerable”  in Spain)

Spanish Imperial Eagle (part-time scavenger – listed as “endangered” in Spain)

Red Kite (part-time scavenger - listed as “endangered” in Spain)
http://www.mapama.gob.es/es/biodiversidad/temas/inventarios-nacionales/LR_completo_para_web_tcm7-164856.pdf        page 438

As for the Egyptian Vulture, it is classified as “endangered” in Spain and worldwide – IUCN red list:  http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22695180/0  
where we read: “Justification: This long-lived species qualifies as Endangered owing to a recent and extremely rapid population decline in India (presumably resulting from poisoning by the veterinary drug diclofenac) combined with severe long-term declines in Europe (>50% over the last three generations [42 years]) and West Africa, plus continuing declines through much of the rest of its African range.”

4) An ongoing extinction.


The predictable extinction of the Egyptian Vulture in Andalusia is not a speculation. It is ongoing: “the province of Malaga’s last breeding pair of rare Egyptian vultures have been found dead, making the species extinct in the province.”
http://www.theolivepress.es/spain-news/2010/09/06/egyptian-vultures-extinct/


Remember, only 23 breeding pairs remain in the rest of Andalusia.


See also: Wind farms may cause extinction of Greater Prairie Chicken
https://wcfn.org/2017/06/21/greater-prairie-chicken-in-peril/


 


 

To be completed shortly…

 








Leave a Reply