On 27th and 28th June 2018, the Government of the Canary Islands organised four meetings dedicated to discussing the management of feeding stations and other supplementary feeding points for vultures, as well as leisure activities that may impact conservation efforts for that species.
Two of the seminars took place in Fuerteventura and two in Lanzarote; these were organised by the Canarian Nature Conservation Agency (Dirección General para la Protección de la Naturaleza) working together with other organisations, in particular the Canarian Livestock Farming Agency (Dirección General de Ganadería) and the local governments in Fuerteventura and Lanzarote.
The meetings aimed to take stock of the status of the Egyptian vulture and consult with different local stakeholder groups to identify measures – in terms of supplementary food sources – that could help the increase and expand the vulture population. Another issue discussed was that of leisure activities taking place in nature, and how to guarantee that Egyptian vultures are undisturbed as much as possible, particularly during the nesting season.
The seminar about managing the feeding stations and supplementary feeding points was open to regional and island animal welfare organisations, veterinarians and veterinary technicians, those managing the existing feeding stations, wildlife conservation experts and those working for environmental agencies.
During the first part of the meeting, Miguel Ángel Cabrera Pérez (a Canary Island Government expert) introduced key topics such as the status of the Egyptian vulture on the two islands of the archipelago, the trophic requirements of the species, the functioning of the feeding stations, existing maps and their effect on the vulture population, as well as applicable legislation and standards.
Afterwards, discussions took place among the participants, focusing particularly on how to improve the quality and variety of the food supplied, assessing suitable areas for setting up the new feeding stations planned as part of the LIFE Egyptian vulture project (one in Lanzarote and the other in the southern part of Fuerteventura) and also the need to develop a plan for the overall management of current and future feeding stations. Participants also discussed the viability of organising feeding points for the vultures directly within areas used for non-intensive and semi-intensive livestock farming, a move currently restricted by national regulations.
A follow-up meeting, held in Fuerteventura on 17th June 2018, focused specifically on managing the two feeding stations on the island.
The seminar about managing leisure activities in nature involved organisations with experience in environmental management and stakeholder groups involved in sporting and leisure activities, sports clubs and environmental agency workers.
The first part of the workshop demonstrated the negative effects that certain activities have on the reproductive success of the species, especially in some nesting areas (e.g. hiking, cycling and motorcycle tests, using motorised vehicles, climbing, birdwatching, paragliding).
This was followed by participants discussing possible measures to mitigate these negative effects, including: Identifying a “protection zone” of at least 500 metres around nests from February to July, improving the exchange of information between the different organisations so that permits for leisure activities in critical areas are issued with the greatest possible diligence, improving signposting in critical areas to increase awareness among the population and draw attention to applicable limitations, strengthening collaboration between local stakeholder groups and the staff engaged in species monitoring and conservation efforts, and the participation of supervisory bodies to optimise control activities.