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Europe and Central Asia
14 Nov 2014

First full migration census in southern Turkey of Egyptian Vulture and other raptors

Doğa Derneği
By Alessia Calderalo

With its yellow beak and its beautiful white plumage, the Egyptian Vulture was revered in Ancient Egypt as a symbol of parental care. Sadly, this majestic bird is one of those many endangered species that year after year face several threats causing their decline.

Turkey is one of the few countries in the world that has a large breeding population of Egyptian Vultures, estimated at 1,000 – 3,000 pairs. Doğa Derneği, BirdLife Partner in the country, is aware of its responsibility in the protection of the species and has initiated research to assess its conservation status in Turkey. Because monitoring population size of Egyptian Vultures in Turkey is very difficult as the breeding range is large and finding all the occupied territories is labour intensive, a team led by Doğa Derneği and BirdLife British Partner RSPB implemented an alternative approach and conducted the first full migration census in southern Turkey.

From 16th August to 16th October 2014, the team was located at a migratory bottleneck near the Gulf of Iskenderun to count migrating Egyptian Vultures and other migrating raptors. The project, partly funded by the Ornithological Society of the Middle East (OSME), showed that 130.347 raptors migrated over the area, including 47.594 Lesser Spotted Eagles, which is more than 95% of the currently assumed world population.

The study conducted this year is a huge step forward for Turkey’s ornithologists and bird lovers, since it has provided valuable baseline data that can be compared in the future to infer population changes of Egyptian Vultures and other raptors. However, for this study to be truly effective in the future, the migration monitoring needs to be carried out for at least ten years. If implemented annually, the census will provide robust information to understand the trends of many species and thus serve to design effective conservation measures based on scientific evidence.

For more information, please contact Engin Yilmaz, General Manager at Doğa Derneği.


Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe.