Egyptian vultures were confiscated from a farm in Mariyata – Zgharta

Based on various tip-offs, the Anti-Poaching Unit (APU) was able to confiscate yesterday two Egyptian Vultures (EV) held at a local farm in Mirayata, Zgharta area. The endangered birds were being illegally kept for the past two and half years.
The team which included a field vet was able to perform rapid check-ups on these endangered species, in order to ensure their health status. Further to this, the farm owner showed positive cooperation and claimed his lack of knowledge that it is prohibited to capture such a bird.

This case is just the latest in a string of similar raids to clamp down on the illegal trade of endangered vultures in Lebanon. Last September our teams seized three Egyptian vultures from a private zoo in the south and just last month a ringed Griffon vulture (previously assumed to have perished in Syria in 2018) was found safe and well in the Bekaa valley.

Needless to mention that SPNL has previously taken care of four EVs, where one was released and another was transported to Prague Zoo, to be introduced in the breeding program. The newly captured EVs will be isolated and quarantined within SPNL’s rehabilitation facility to monitor their health.
This action was done through the regional Egyptian Vulture NewLIFE Project, funded by the EU. The raid was conducted in cooperation with our partners from the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) and the Middle East Sustainable Hunting Center (MESHC).

To save an endangered species, the Egyptian Vulture, institutions and organisations from 14 countries spanning the Balkans, Middle East and Africa have joined forces proving that political borders do not exist in these efforts. All of them have united under the project “Urgent Actions to Strengthen the Balkan Population of the Egyptian Vulture and Secure Its Flyway” (LIFE16 NAT/BG/000874), abbreviated to Egyptian Vulture New LIFE Project, launched in July 2017 with financial support from the EU’s LIFE Programme and the co-financing of the AG Leventis Foundation and the MAVA Foundation.

The Egyptian Vulture is a globally threatened species and over the last 30 years its population in the Balkans has declined by more than 80%, with no more than 70 pairs remaining. The reasons for this can be found not only on its breeding grounds on the peninsula, but also along its flyway. Among the four vulture species breeding in western Palearctic, the Egyptian Vulture is the only regular long-distant migrant. Every autumn, individual birds fly over 8,000 km to their wintering grounds in Africa, and return back to the Balkans in the following spring.

Vultures, help to keep ecosystems healthy as they act as natural carcass recyclers, thus they are better known as nature’s cleanup crew, do the dirty work of cleaning up after death. They provide critically important ecosystem services and socio-economic benefits. Hence, reducing the need to incinerate thousands of tons of animal remains every year. However, Egyptian Vultures are still declining in some regions and are considered globally endangered. As Europe’s only long-distance migratory vulture, not only does it face threats in its breeding grounds, but also across its flyway from Europe to Africa. Egyptian Vultures, specifically have cultural ties dated back to thousands of years, within the Egyptian culture and Hieroglyphic letters.

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