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The role of extensive pastoralism in vulture conservation

AuthorsMateo-Tomás, Patricia CSIC ORCID
Issue Date2013
PublisherBirdLife Cyprus
CitationProceedings of the Griffon Vulture Conference: 104-114 (2013)
AbstractAlthough livestock is mostly considered in a rather negative way regarding ecosystem conservation worldwide, some livestock practises could significantly contribute to nature conservation in some concrete cases. Among the wild species which can benefit from livestock presence, vultures are one of the groups more closely related to livestock rearing worldwide. As long as both Asian and European recent vulture conservation crisis have been mostly related to more intensive livestock practises, extensive pastoralism seems to be a much more sustainable alternative for scavenger conservation. Free-ranging livestock, much more difficult to control, would provide enough food to maintain healthy vulture populations. By maintaining carcass unpredictability, it simulates a more natural food source in terms of supporting the natural ecological processes related to carcass exploitation. Although there are also some negative impacts of extensive pastoralism on vultures (e.g. illegal poisoning), both the intensification and abandonment of grazing systems, and specially of more traditional practises, is expected to negatively influence vulture conservation. The areas abandoned by extensive pastoralism could be occupied by other activities (e.g. cropland, urbanisation) which would not provide alternative food sources for vultures. The intensification of grazing systems may result in a higher use of veterinary drugs together with changes in livestock breeds and/or species (e.g. from cows and sheep to pigs and poultry). To effectively halt the ongoing disappearance of extensive pastoralism, and specially of traditional practises, it is needed a legal framework integrating agricultural, environmental and rural development policies. These policies should focus on identifying and supporting those livestock rearing practises which provide clearly defined environmental public goods (e.g. biodiversity, water availability). Monitoring and evaluation of these policies is also fundamental to ensure their achievement. If we aim to preserve natural ecosystems with functional scavenger communities, further research is needed on the complex relationship between extensive pastoralism and vultures.
DescriptionTrabajo presentado a la Griffon Vulture Conference, celebrada en Limassol (Chipre) del 6 al 8 de marzo de 2013.
Identifiersisbn: 978-9963-2982-0-4
Appears in Collections:(IREC) Libros y partes de libros

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