On 21st, 22nd and 23rd February 2018, a workshop took place on the Canarian island of Fuerteventura involving the staff of the project’s beneficiaries and Spanish personnel who will be working on the ground to develop some of the key initiatives planned.
The workshop, organised by the Government of the Canary Islands, focused on a fruitful exchange of experiences and knowledge related to three main themes of the LIFE Egyptian vulture project: The securing of power lines to prevent the Egyptian vulture from being electrocuted, management of feeding points and ex-situ reproduction of the species.
The main contributions came in the format of presentations by Miguel Ángel Cabrera Pérez (Government of the Canary Islands), Alessandro Andreotti (ISPRA), Mauro Salvadori (e-distribuzione), Guido Ceccolini and Anna Cenerini (Biodiversità sas) and Alejandro Suárez Pérez (Government of the Canary Islands, La Oliva Biological Station) and the comparisons and discussions among participants were based on these.
The first day of the event was dedicated to an inspection of the intervention areas. This began at the La Oliva Biological Station, which is home to a pair of Egyptian vultures in captivity, and continued with a visit to some of the nesting areas of the species (all subject to surveillance and monitoring), to electricity transmission and distribution lines that have already been or will be subject to isolation measures within the LIFE Egyptian vulture project and finally on to the Tiscamanita feeding station.
On 22nd February, the theoretical session of the conference, held at the Palace of Congress of Puerto del Rosario, opened with an illustration of the status and the trend of the species in the Canaries (M. A. Cabrera) and in Italy (A. Andreotti).
Talk then turned to the risk of electrocution of the Egyptian vulture (M A. Cabrera, M. Salvadori and G. Ceccolini) which made it possible to analyse the types of changes that will be adopted in the areas that are sensitive for the species according to the different type of supports present and which will lead to the securing of 500 supports in Italy (work by e-distribuzione) and 220 supports in the Canaries (work by Endesa distribución).
It was highlighted that electrocution in the Canaries is the primary cause of non-natural mortality for the Egyptian vulture. This occurs on the 20 kV distribution lines, the supports of which are used as resting perches. The important role of the GPS devices that are attached to many Egyptian vultures in the Canaries was also emphasised. These allow use of the territory to be tracked and the areas which are most at risk to be pinpointed.
Discussion then moved on to the topic of feeding stations (M. A. Cabrera and G. Ceccolini), with an analysis of the experiences of the Government of the Canary Islands in managing the three currently active feeding stations on Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, including their “pros” (reduction of mortality of youngsters and adults) and “cons” (concentration of pairs in areas close to them). The construction of two more feeding stations thanks to the LIFE Egyptian vulture project, one in Fuerteventura and one in Lanzarote, will favour the expansion of the species in areas which are currently less frequented.
In Italy, the project will allow the construction of five feeding stations specifically dedicated to the Egyptian vulture both in nesting areas (one in Apulia, two in Basilicata and one in Calabria) and in an important migratory bottleneck in Sicily.
The 23rd of February was dedicated to the ex-situ reproduction of the Egyptian vulture and focused on a presentation by Guido Ceccolini and Anna Cenerini, who presented their Canarian colleagues with an account of their 20 years of experience on the subject. The two experts work in the framework of the CERM Centro Rapaci Minacciati (Endangered Raptors Centre) in southern Tuscany, which is home to the largest number of captive Egyptian vultures in the world and where 42 vultures have been born (which have either been released into the wild or are intended for reproduction in captivity).
The session concluded with a speech by veterinarian Alejandro Suárez Pérez from La Oliva Biological Station, who presented the methods used for ex-situ reproduction in the Canarian centre and the results obtained, which led to the release of two individuals.
The workshop was punctuated late in the morning of the 22nd February by the holding of a press conference to present the project. Representatives of the coordinating beneficiary as well as all three Spanish beneficiaries and the Regional Government of Fuerteventura took part, the latter of which hosted the event and supports the project: Consejera de Política Territorial, Sostenibilidad y Seguridad del Gobierno de Canarias (Minister for Territorial Policy, Sustainability and Security of the Canary Islands), Nieves Lady Barreto; The President of the Provincial Council of Fuerteventura, Marcial Morales; Director of Red de Endesa in the smaller Canary islands, Margarita Paz; Environment Manager of e-distribuzione, Mauro Salvadori; Consejera delegada di Gestión y Planeamiento Territorial y Medioambiental (Delegated Advisor of Territorial Planning and Environmental Management – GESPLAN), Beatriz Calzada Ojeda.