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Evaluating European LIFE conservation projects: Improvements in survival of an endangered vulture

Badia-Boher, Jaume Adrià (2018) BION02 20172
Degree Projects in Biology
Popular Abstract
Saving vultures from extinction: everyone’s business

The eminent naturalist Charles Darwin once said vultures were “disgusting”. Well, we cannot argue that they are as cute as fur seals or cheetah puppies. However, these birds have an essential role in nature that needs to be preserved because, in fact, it ultimately benefits us. Vultures eat dead animals, either fresh or putrefied, and in that way they prevent dangerous diseases such as anthrax or rabies from spreading to humans and other animals. Unfortunately, these important benefits are nowadays compromised, as vultures are among the most threatened animals in the world.

The case of the Egyptian vulture in the Canary Islands is the perfect example of this “vulture crisis”. The... (More)
Saving vultures from extinction: everyone’s business

The eminent naturalist Charles Darwin once said vultures were “disgusting”. Well, we cannot argue that they are as cute as fur seals or cheetah puppies. However, these birds have an essential role in nature that needs to be preserved because, in fact, it ultimately benefits us. Vultures eat dead animals, either fresh or putrefied, and in that way they prevent dangerous diseases such as anthrax or rabies from spreading to humans and other animals. Unfortunately, these important benefits are nowadays compromised, as vultures are among the most threatened animals in the world.

The case of the Egyptian vulture in the Canary Islands is the perfect example of this “vulture crisis”. The species, once abundant, declined to just a few dozens of individuals by 2000, mainly due to massive pesticide poisonings and accidents in power lines. However, in 2004, the local institutions launched an ambitious conservation project in an act of desperation to save the species. First, they modified power lines to make them vulture safe. Then, they launched awareness campaigns to prevent people from using poison, by means of showing them its catastrophic effects on vultures. In our study, we wanted to know if these measures had really worked out and helped the species to recover. To do so, we designed a statistical model to see if vulture mortality (in other words, the percentages of vultures dying every year) decreased after the implementation of the conservation plan.

Education: The most powerful tool?

Happily, our results gave us grounds for optimism. The conservation plan had been very effective, since vulture mortality decreased considerably after its implementation. We also confirmed that the species was rapidly recovering in the Canary Islands. The study evidenced that the power line modifications worked fairly well. However, the most relevant result was the huge effectiveness of the awareness campaigns. In fact, pesticide poisonings have almost disappeared from the islands in recent years.

This last result is very relevant, as it shows how important education is when it comes to protecting wildlife. This study shows why education needs to occupy an essential role in conservation. Teaching people how to act in a different, more respectful way towards nature, is definitely the way for the future. In fact, not only vultures provide us important benefits, but also thousands of other animals and plants. Protecting them, and ensuring that the next generations can enjoy them as much as we do, is definitely everyone’s business.

Master’s Degree Project in Biology, 45 credits, 2018
Department of Biology, Lund University
Advisor: Staffan Bensch (Department of Biology, Lund University) (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Badia-Boher, Jaume Adrià
supervisor
organization
course
BION02 20172
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
language
English
id
8948383
date added to LUP
2018-06-12 11:09:58
date last changed
2018-06-12 11:09:58
@misc{8948383,
  author       = {Badia-Boher, Jaume Adrià},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Evaluating European LIFE conservation projects: Improvements in survival of an endangered vulture},
  year         = {2018},
}