European vultures are starving to death

Platform Save the Spanish Vultures want the re-opening of the traditional “Muladares” and enough food in the field to maintain these protected bird populations. Muladares are the traditional places around the villages where farmers bring their dead animals to be eaten by Vultures and other scavengers.

European and Spanish laws allow the opening of traditional Muladares but some of the Autonomous Regions don’t use these possibilities and closed down all Muladares. As these Regions are for a 100% responsible of nature conservation in Spain, the real situation is as if European and Spanish laws do not exist.


Egyptian vulture: the most endangered scavanger of Spain?

March 2009.
Spanish Egyptian vulture populations experienced a sharp decline (around 25%) during the last two decades. It seems that the combined effects of habitat features, human persecution and the species’ social behavior could explain the recent largescale territory extinction.
The article "Poison-related mortality effects in the endangered Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) population in Spain" – published online - suggest that poisoning is probably one of the main causes of Egyptian vulture mortality in Spain. The eradication of the illegal use of poisoning and supplementary feeding in specific territories to provide safe food seems priority for its conservation.
To read the article (English), click here.

Vulture counts Pyrenees

November 2008
Fondo Amigos del Buitre (FAB) studies since many years the population of Griffon Vultures at the pre-Pyrenees of Aragón (Riglos, Guara). Here we find important colonies, representing about 5% of the Spanish population in 1999 (SEO/BirdLife).
Download the counts, also English, here.
"In 2008 the population of the Griffon Vulture in this area has fallen by 21% and the number of fledged young by a 48%, compared to the 5-year period before the food crises. In 2008 62 out of each 100 nests failed. The 2007 results were quite worse. At Governmental feeding stations some 80 tons of food a month has been distributed, less than a 15% of the food demanded by the vultures."

Conference Necrophagous Raptors and Muladares

April 2008
First National Conference on the Management of Necrophagous Raptors and Muladares at Caravaca de la Cruz (Murcia).
Download the conclusions in English here or in french here.
“The current management strategy for carcasses, a natural resource, is a serious threat to the preservation of biodiversity. The result of this management is that one of the pillars sustaining a large portion of the ecological processes is altered at the base.”

25 year counts Hoces de Riaza

Jesús Hernando, the Refugio's guard, looking at the vultures from a very short distance. Some years ago this was not possible. Photo by Juan José Molina Pérez 19th August 2008

November 2007
Results of 25 year november counts in the Hoces de Riaza (100 km North of Madrid) Griffon Vulture colony were published. After a maximum of of 1.117 birds in 2004 there was a downfall 34% in 2006 and 31% in 2007.
Griffon Vulture counts by " Fondo para el Refugio de las Hoces del Riaza".

Questions European Parliament

August 2007
Answer on Parliamentary questions (P-3368/2007) given by Mr Kyprianou on behalf of the European Commission, confirming that according to European rules muladares can be (re)opened.
Press for the link in English here.
“In accordance with Commission Decision 2003/322/EC(2), the derogation may be used by certain Member States, among them Spain, and for the species of vultures referred to in that Decision. The criteria according to which feeding may take place, in particular how the feeding stations should be set up in order to prevent access to the feeding material by other animals and thus spreading the risk of disease, are specified in the decision.”

III Symposium on Vultures

July 2007
III Symposium on Vultures at Plasencia (Cáceres), 9th-13th July 2007.
Download the conclusions in English here.
“The creation and management of vulture feeding places (“muladares”) at every farm is recommended, thus decongesting some of the large muladares.”

BirdLife International Report

June 2007
Publication of BirdLife International Report: Impact of Regulation 1774/2002 and European Commission decisions in 2003 and 2005 on carrion-feeding birds in the Iberian Peninsula, and possible solutions.
Download this important BirdLife International Report in English here.
“The current system is also leading to the collapse of a clean and efficient natural sanitary system replacing it with a much more expensive and polluting artificial one.”
“It would thus be appropriate to update the rules for handling animal by-products not eligible for human consumption in order to allow dead livestock to be removed to recognised locations or, as was previously the case with extensive livestock rearing, the abandonment in the wild where they are immediately consumed by carrion feeders.

New Spanish National law

May 2007
New Spanish National law REAL DECRETO 664/2007, de 25 de mayo allows feeding Vultures and opening Muladares. But watch out: it has to be applied by the Autonomous regions if not it is worth just nothing.
Download the document in Spanish here.
By Spanish Law (Real Decreto 664/2007) it should be allowed for anyone to open a muladar and deposit:
1) Without analysis Transmissible Spongiform Encephalitis
(TSE): cattle, aged less than 24 month, Sheep and goats aged less than 18 month
2)With analysis TSE: cattle, aged more than 24 month
4% analysis TSE of any explotation: all sheep and goats.

Starvation of Griffon Vultures in Aragón

March 2007
Report Starvation of Griffon Vultures in Aragón (N. Spain), by Fondo Amigos del Buitre (FAB) and Fast Forward Foundation (the Netherlands).
Download the document in English here.
“The Aragón Government is not acting according to the letter nor to the sense of European COMMISSION DECISION of 25 November 2005.”


November 2005
The EU published the COMMISSION DECISION of 25 November 2005 amending Decision 2003/322/EC as regards the feeding of certain necrophagous birds.
Download Decision 2003/322/EC in English here.
“In order to improve the availability of feed to endangered or protected species, … ensure that carcasses of bovine and at least 4% of carcasses of ovine and caprine animals intended to be used for feeding are tested prior to that use with a negative result, in the TSE monitoring programme carried out in accordance with Annex III to Regulation (EC) Nº 999/2001.”

The Spanish regions

The Spanish regions have their own laws on nature protection and differ on Vulture management.