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Conservation status and limiting factors in the endangered population of Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) in the Canary Islands

AuthorsDonázar, José A. CSIC ORCID; Palacios, César J.; Gangoso, Laura CSIC ORCID; Ceballos, Olga CSIC; González, M. J.; Hiraldo, F. CSIC
Issue Date2002
CitationBiological Conservation 107: 89- 97 (2002)
AbstractEgyptian vulture populations have decreased sharply in the Western Palearctic; island populations are almost extinct in the Mediterranean and the Macaronesian regions. In the Canary archipelago, the species only survives in the islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. During 1998-2001 we examined population parameters and evaluated some potential limiting factors for this isolated and sedentary population. The total population (breeding and non-breeding birds) was monitored annually. In addition, 26 fledglings and 33 immatures (<6 years old) and adult birds were captured for individual marking with plastic rings. Twenty-three/twenty-four occupied territories were located in the island and the total population estimated at around 130 birds. Breeding success was lower than recorded elsewhere in the species' distribution area: only 0.43 fledglings/pair/year were produced. Adult (>6 years old birds) and immature annual survival rates were similar, around 90%. Adult survival was lower than expected as territorial birds seem more susceptible to poisoning. Immature survival could be favoured by the existence of regular feeding places. Casualties from power lines was the main cause of mortality (12 cases during the study period). Blood sampling revealed high frequencies of lead poisoning: 13.5 and 2.7% of individuals showed sub-clinical and clinical intoxication levels, respectively, probably caused by the ingestion of lead shot. Priority conservation measures should be directed to reduce electrocution risks, illegal poisoning, and lead contamination. Population reinforcement with birds coming from other populations is not recommended as previous information reveals morphological and genetic differentiation of Canarian Egyptian vultures compared with continental populations. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1016/S0006-3207(02)00049-6
issn: 0006-3207
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