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Efforts to prevent Griffon vultures’ extinction ‘failing’

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Twelve-year-long efforts to prevent the extinction of the Griffon vulture from the island are failing, the Animal Party announced on Thursday.

After the recent incident where the only remaining nest was abandoned and the egg did not hatch, it is clear that the programmes running since 2005 have ended in full failure, the party said.

Environmental NGO BirdLife Cyprus announced in March that a batch consisting of 14 Griffon vultures had arrived on the island from Spain.

The arrival of the birds was part of the ‘Life with Vultures’ programme’s to prevent their extinction and strengthen their extremely diminished population on the island.

The vultures were transferred to a special acclimatisation cage of the Game Fund in the Limassol district where they were to remain for five to six months. As with the previously released vultures, the birds were fitted with transmitters to monitor their movements, as well as for early rescue intervention.

Last September, two out of eight vultures, previously donated from Spain, which had been released into the wild died days after being set free, due to their young age.

“The effort to save the vulture has been tragic and even criminally unacceptable,” the Animal party’s statement said. “Questions must be asked about how the money allotted to the programmes was spent.”

The party went on to demand explanations from authorities as well as NGOs over the repeated failures noting also that last year two chicks died of poisoning in their nests.

Among the known reasons for failure the party detailed shooting of birds, indirect poisoning from baits set for foxes and hounds, reduction of food availability, collisions with electric cables and wind turbines, and disturbance during the nesting season.

“Since 2011 when the reintroduction programmes started, at which at the time the total population of vultures numbered six to eight birds, 25 vultures were imported from Crete and 13 vultures were lost.

“From 2019 to 2023 the new effort, ‘Life with Vultures’, with a budget of €1,375,861, and 60 per cent EU funded, also failed, and there remains a single pair of birds with very slim chances of reproduction,” the party said.

The state, which co-financed the programs from taxpayers’ money and allowed the import of vultures knowing the risks, as well as the EU which approves programs without proper studies, are responsible for condemning these birds to their death, the party concluded.

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