Response to the Animal Party’s Condemnation of Griffon Vulture Conservation Efforts in Cyprus

Photo by Silvio A. Rusmigo
Photo by Silvio A. Rusmigo
From the LIFE with Vulture project partners: Game and Fauna Service, BirdLife Cyprus, Terra Cypria and the Vulture Conservation Foundation

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Although we understand the Animal Party’s concern for the Griffon Vulture population in Cyprus, we cannot understand their condemnation of the conservation efforts for a species that is on the brink of extinction. It is essential to remember that conservation successes do not happen overnight, especially for a species like the Griffon Vulture, which has a slow reproduction rate and requires many years for its population to recover.

While it is disheartening to witness vultures still falling victim to poisoning, collisions, shooting and electrocution, we cannot dismiss all the progress made over the years. The fact that vultures are still present today, with breeding pairs being birds brought from Crete, is a testament to the significance of these efforts. Had the restocking not taken place back in 2011 with birds from Crete, it is highly likely that the species would have faced extinction on the island by now. The possibility of the extinction of the species is also confirmed by a Population Viability Analysis, which has shown that if no management and conservation actions are taken with the currently small population size, the Griffon Vulture in Cyprus will go extinct within just 15 years. It is crucial to recognize that one challenging year, like this year, does not negate the entire conservation endeavor. Only time will reveal the true impact of our work, and we must remain committed to our cause despite setbacks and criticisms.

We were surprised by the Animal Party’s critique, given that they advocate for animal welfare. Rather than attacking those who are genuinely trying to save a species from extinction, we encourage constructive dialogue and support. By working together, we can strengthen conservation initiatives and maximize their impact. Especially when poison bait use is so rampant both in the countryside and in built-up areas.

Among the notable achievements of the LIFE with Vultures project is the establishment of two anti-poison dog units patrolling the countryside, which has been a significant step forward in combating poisoning incidents. The two units play a critical role in the detection and prevention of poisoning incidents in the countryside, helping to conserve not only the Griffon Vulture, but also other wildlife species vulnerable to poisoning, as well as protecting companion animals such as dogs and cats. Moreover, thanks to the collaboration of all relevant departments and bodies, a substantial fine of €21,000 was recently issued by the prosecuting authorities for the killing of wild birds using poison baits. This represents a crucial milestone that will hopefully act as a strong deterrent against similar illegal actions that have devastating consequences for Cyprus wildlife.

In conclusion, we firmly believe that condemning years of effort based on a few isolated poisoning incidents or setbacks is not a fair assessment of the ongoing conservation efforts. Protecting and preserving nature is a constant struggle and while challenges may arise, it is essential to focus on the progress that has been made and not give up on efforts. We remain committed to the project and our goal to prevent the species from disappearing from the island and ensure its long-term survival. We would expect the Animal Party to make concrete proposals, to focus its efforts on lobbying for a better crackdown on poison bait use, to help push for measures for the insulation of overhead power lines and quite simply to support such efforts, instead of questioning and criticizing them, for the purposes of impressing public opinion.


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