Author: Karim Rousselon

Bands & satellite tracking

Recovery, rehabilitation and marking of a young female Spanish…

The Moroccan Association for Falconry and Raptors Conservation (MAFRC) successfully scored and released a female Iberian Eagle. This operation, supervised by the High Commission for Water and Forests and the Fight Against Desertification (HCEFLCD) and executed by the MAFRC in partnership with Consejeria de Medio Ambiente y Ordenacion del Territorio of the Junta de Andalucia and the Migres Foundation, will enable the identification of threats to these birds in Morocco in order to take corrective measures.


  On November 17, 2018, a female Spanish Imperial Eagle was recovered by the AMFCR in the Bouznika region. The bird, a young female born in 2017 in Spain, was weak, distressed and affected by coccidiosis.

Treated and then rehabilitated during a month in an aviary by the AMFCR, its marking and its release were planned with the agreement and the close collaboration of the High Commission of the Waters and Forests and the Fight Against Desertification (HCEFLCD), the Consejeria de Medio Ambiente y Ordenacion del Territorio de la Junta de Andalucia and the Migres Foundation.

A 45 gram GPS loggers and a yellow Darvic M06 ring were fitted on the bird that was successfully released on 17 December 2018. The bird has been observed in good health in the Benslimane region’s oak trees several times, guaranteeing the success of its reintegration to nature.

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As a reminder, the Spanish Imperial Eagle is an emblematic species that almost disappeared in the 1970s, mainly because of electrocution, the scarcity of prey (especially rabbit), poisoning and modification of its habitats. The recovery and conservation plan of the Spanish Imperial Eagle set up by the different Spanish provinces allowed the stabilization, then the progressive increase of its population.

Female Spanish Imperial Eagle (Ringe M06) fitted with GPS logger just before the release. Bouznika – 17/12/2018 – Photo Karim LAIDI


Today, between 600 and 700 pairs of Eagles populate the Peninsula, versus 120/130 pairs in 1970. The Moroccan breeding population, which existed in low density in the North-West of the Country (Maamora Forest, Plain of Loukkos), is considered as probably extinct around 1940. However, as a result of Spain’s considerable efforts for the conservation of the species, the Moroccan and North African observations of erratic immature Spanish Imperial Eagles coming from the Peninsula are more and more frequent.

In 2017, at least four Spanish Imperial eagles crossed the Strait of Gibraltar towards North Africa. It was in the 4 cases immature birds:

  • A bird photographed, after crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, behind the port of Tangier-Med, September 12 (R. El Khamlichi).
  • A bird photographed at the same place on October 6, also just after crossing the strait (R. El Khamlichi).
  • A bird also photographed on the same site on November 10 (R. El Khamlichi, Cécile Krystelle and Radu Adrian).

A male tracked by satellite in Andalusia crossed the strait in September 2017. The bird traveled from northern Morocco to Algeria and then to the Atlas Mountains, the Sahara and Guelmim. It then moved north on the Atlantic coast between Casablanca and Rabat. Karim Rousselon was able to locate and photograph the bird on October 27, 2017 (Fig.3). The bird has not since left Morocco where he stays mainly in the protected hunting reserves, which seem to offer him protection and food. Hope to see a breeding case soon.

Satellite monitoring of these birds will provide essential information for the identification of the main threats affecting these birds in Morocco, and can therefore provide corrective measures. In the long term, this work orchestrated by the HCEFLCD fits into the framework of the implementation of a National Strategy for the Conservation of Birds of Prey in Morocco, which should make it possible to ensure the survival of the most endangered raptor populations in Morocco. Raptors are an essential link to ensure the balance of ecosystems.


Wing-tagging and release of vultures at Jbel Moussa (Cinereous,…

An operation to release some vultures was carried out at Jbel Moussa on 17 August 2018. It was organized by the Forestry Administration (HCEFLCD) in collaboration with the Moroccan Association for Falconry and Raptors Conservation (MAFRC) and a number of national institutions and NGOs.

 After a period of rehabilitation, a Griffon vulture and a Rüppell vulture were released at Jbel Moussa on August 17, 2018. This operation was conducted by the HCEFLCD in collaboration with several institutions and NGOs including the MAFRC.

Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus):

This bird was found at Khmis Anjra (located at some 30 Km south of the Strait of Gibraltar). It was taken care of by a farmer for a period of time (more about this later), and on 9 August 2018 it was recovered by the North-West section of GREPOM in collaboration with the Forestry Administration (HCEFLCD – DREF-Rif).

The vulture was wing-tagged with white-code markings on black background (M20). Because it still can’t fly at that moment, it was taken by the Moroccan Association for Falconry and the Conservation of Raptors (AMFCR) to a raptor rehabilitation aviary in Bouznika (with the agreement of the HCEFLCD).


Cinereous Vulture / Vautour moine (Aegypius monachus): M20, Jbel Moussa region, 17 Aug. 2018 (Rachid El Khamlichi)

Annually a few Cinereous Vultures cross the Strait of Gibraltar to winter in Morocco, although some of them venture as far south as West Africa. Read more:

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus):

This vulture was ringed and wing-tagged in Portugal by Quercus ANCN. On 08 July 2018, it was found weak at Khouribga and taken care of by a citizen. Alerted by GREPOM, the Forestry Administration (HCEFLCD) recovered the bird three days later. It was then transferred to the facilities of the National Zoological Garden (JZR) for treatment and recovery. On the release day, the HCEFLCD gave the green light to the AMFCR to transport the bird to Jbel Moussa.

The original wing-tags (white ‘X8’ on green background) were almost torn up by the vulture (see photo). Therefore, it was necessary to mark the vulture with new wing-tags (white ‘M19’ on black background).


Griffon Vulture / Vautour fauve (Gyps fulvus), Jbel Moussa region, 17 Aug. 2018 (Karim Rousselon). It was wing-tagged in Portugal with ‘8X‘.


Griffon Vulture / Vautour fauve (Gyps fulvus), Jbel Moussa region, 17 Aug. 2018 (Karim Rousselon). The same bird as above but with new wing-tags: ‘M19‘


Rüppel’s Vulture (Gyps rueppelli):

This bird was recovered in the Oriental region by the Emirates Center for Wildlife Propagation (ECWP) in collaboration with the Forestry Administration (HCEFLCD – DREF-Oriental). It was wing-tagged (black ‘M1’ on white background) and equipped with a GPS transmitter. It was released at Jbel Moussa area but it did not flight away.

Rüppell’s Vulture / Vautour de Rüppell (Gyps rueppelli): ‘M1‘, Jbel Moussa region, 17 Aug. 2018 (Karim Rousselon).

Another Rüppel’s Vulture found by citizens on the roof of a building at Fnideq on 13 August. It was recovered on the same day by GREPOM and the Forestry Administration. It was meant to be wing-tagged and released on the same day as the other vultures. However, it escaped and flown away two days later. This bird is the 10th Rüppel’s Vulture for “spring 2018” in the area of Jbel Moussa. For the other birds, read: Migration of rare vultures at Jbel Moussa, spring 2018. (Although we don’t know for sure if it was migrating north or south when it landed on that roof. However, we know that some vultures still moving northward in August and September).


The vulture release team.

By MaghrebOrnitho | 21 August 2018

Workshops and events

Workshop: Identification of Raptors in flight

Jbel Moussa: MAFRC took part in the first training to identify Raptors in flight from 27 to 29 April 2018. This workshop was organized by Rachid El Khamlichi (Grepom unit north-west), a leading specialist in the Raptors of the Detroit region of Gibraltar.

As part of the reinforcement of the knowledge of birds of prey in Morocco, the group for the study and protection of Birds of Morocco (GREPOM) organized from 27 to 29 April 2018, in partnership with the High Commissioner for Water and forests and the fight against dis Desertification (HCEFLCD), and with the support of the commune of Taghramt, the first training to identify Raptors in flight at Jbel Moussa. Participated in the event several associations of conservation of Raptors in Morocco, including the Association of Friends of Raptors ASARA (AGADIR), ornithology Group of Morocco GOMAC (Meknes), the Moroccan Association of Falconry and Conservation of Raptors AMFCR (Témara), professors and students from various universities of the kingdom. The Chiefs of the wildlife monitoring and control units of the Regional Directorate of Water and Forests (DREF-RIF) also participated. Among the officials were present: the Kingpin of Taghramt, the commanders of the environmental Centres of the Royal Gendarmerie of Tetouan and Tangier, as well as the commander and officers of the Brigade of the Royal Gendarmerie of Ksar Sghir.

During the day of 28 April, and after a visit to the Centre for the recovery and reintroduction of the Griffon vultures of Jbel Moussa, participants had the opportunity to attend the presentations. Also exhibited some of the material used to track wildlife, brochures and field guides.

Three presentations were presented. The first on the Intercontinental Biosphere Reserve of the Mediterranean (RBIM) by Mr Rachid Abou Alouafae, head of the partnership Service for the Conservation and Development of natural resources (DREFLCD – Rif).

The second on the strategy of the migration of raptors by the Strait of Gibraltar, presented by Mr Rachid El Akudirinwa, regional coordinator of the research group for the Protection of birds in Morocco, (GREPOM/Birdlife).

And the third, presented by Mr. Karim Rousseln, president of the Moroccan Association of falconry and Conservation of Raptors (AMFCR), explaining the techniques and methodology on the identification of raptors in flight.

As a result of these, a discussion was opened, allowing interested persons to deepen their knowledge on more technical aspects.

On 29 April, participants took advantage of a practical session on the ground, allowing the observation of several species of raptors in migration (prenuptial), under the guidance of the trainers. Observation equipment and field guides were provided to the participants.

The closing of the event was marked by the delivery of a training certificate to all participants. One more step to raise awareness of the protection of the biotope and species in Morocco has been taken.

atelier Workshops and events

MAFRC Participates in Regional Workshop on Conservation and Development…

The Moroccan Association for Falconry and Raptor’s Conservation (MAFRC) participates Thursday, November 30, 2017, in El Jadida, the regional workshop on the conservation and development of Falconry.

As part of the operationalization of the regional plan of the Law 29-05, the Regional Direction of Water and Forests and the fight against the Desertification of the Center organizes the launching workshop of the “Regional program of conservation and development patrimonial of Falconry “on November 30, 2017 in El Jadida.

This workshop allowed to associate a broad spectrum of institutional partners, scientists as well as associations of falconers.

The organization of this falconry workshop is not only an opportunity to bring falconry into compliance with the legal provisions of the CITES 29-05 Act, but will also be a first step in operationalizing the program. heritage conservation.