Category: Electrocution


Census of raptors in Morocco: a first expedition to…

In an example of cross-border cooperation, Moroccan and Spanish ornithologists, members of Moroccan non-governmental organisations (GOMAC – Groupe Ornithologique du Maroc and ASARA – Association des Amis des Apes des Rapaces), and Spain (GREFA – Grupo de Rehabilitación de la Fauna Autóctona y su Hábitat and Fundación Migres), as well as the Junta de Andalucia, took part in the first day rock raptor census expedition to the Guelmin – Oued Noun and Tan-Tan regions for a 4-day period.

 After the various workshops held to develop a national raptor conservation strategy, the various partners involved in the project are now undertaking a field census. This programme, called Atlas “Safe Flyways – reducing infrastructure-related bird mortality in the Mediterranean” and funded by the Mava Foundation, aims to provide basic information on Morocco’s threatened fauna in order to carry out management actions aimed at the conservation of these species and biodiversity in general. The programme is coordinated by the Office of the High Commission for Water and Forests and the Fight against Desertification (HCEFLCD) and IUCN-Med, with the technical support of experts from the Regional Government of the Junta de Andalucía.

First expedition

Thus, Moroccan and Spanish ornithologists, members of non-governmental organizations from Morocco GOMAC (Ornithologie Group of Morocco) and ASARA and Spain (GREFA – Grupo de Rehabilitación de la Fauna Autóctona y su Hábitat and Fundación Migres), as well as the Junta de Andalucia, took part in the first expedition to the Guelmin – Oued Noun and Tan-Tan regions for a period of 4 days.
Diurnal rock birds of prey such as the Rüppell’s vulture (Gyps rueppellii) or the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), among others, are the first target species of the census and monitoring programme because they are subject to serious threats such as electrocution on power lines or poisoning.

Preliminary data

Preliminary data suggest that electrocution poses a significant threat in this region to breeding and migratory birds of prey, as already revealed in a first study in 2016 (Report on the mortality of birds of prey by electrocution in southwest Morocco). This first visit identified about 25 breeding pairs of species such as the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), the Bonelli’s eagle (Aquila fasciata) or the lanyard falcon (Falco biarmicus) on this territory. Also, out of the approximately 80 kilometres of power lines travelled over the past week, about 90 electrocuted birds have been found. The most dangerous media have been identified in order to accelerate the implementation of corrective measures by the authorities concerned and the National Office of Electricity.

The participation of experts and institutions from both shores of the Mediterranean consolidates a network for the exchange of experience and knowledge for more effective management of wildlife conservation in general and of bird conservation in particular. This programme shows that biodiversity conservation, more specifically the conservation of raptors, knows no borders.


Photos: Ali Irizi
electrocution Electrocution

Plaidoyer for concrete measures against raptor electrocutions in Morocco

Faced with the proliferation of cases and black areas where large birds of prey are electrocuted daily by the pylons of medium tensions, the AMFCR sounds the alarm by imploring the authorities concerned to act quickly to contain the bleeding.

In the space of two weeks, 9 rare eagles were found dead from electrocution in Guelmim province, which is known to be home to a large number of raptors in winter. A bird protection association sounds the alarm.

An Iberian imperial eagle electrocuted, discovered on October 22nd. Photo / Moroccan Birds / Ali Irizi

“We must do something, and quickly!” Says Mohamed Amezian, ornithologist and member of the association GREPOM (Research Group for the Protection of Birds in Morocco). It reacts to the electrocution of 9 rare eagles in the space of two weeks in the province of Guelmim, in the south-west of Morocco. Three Iberian imperial eagles, five Bonelli eagles and one golden eagle were found electrocuted in this region on 22 October and 7 November 2015, one of the Iberian eagles being followed by satellite transmitter.

Guelmim, refuge area for rare eagles in winter

According to the association, the number of electrocuted birds could be even higher. “These eagles were found in a small section of the power line. We do not know what is happening elsewhere in the province. In addition, carcasses are often quickly eliminated by scavengers, “says Amezian.

This phenomenon is all the more worrying because we are entering the winter season, a period of affluence of eagles in the region, according to the NGO. The area is rich in food, according to the official, the Iberian eagles coming from Spain, as well as the Bonelli eagles of the south of Morocco tend to migrate towards Guelmim and its region. “The immature eagles are even more concerned. In their early years, they often disperse, “says Rachid El Khamlichi ornithologist and member of the association GREPOM. “There may have been other eagle deaths in recent days,” he says. “It’s serious ! This situation is dangerous for raptors of Morocco, “warns the ornithologist.

Authorities must react

“The problem of electrocution in one of the main areas of concentration in winter may threaten the Moroccan population of Bonelli’s eagles in the future, if these dangerous electricity pylons are not neutralized,” warned Mr. Amezian, noting that the electrocution of eagles in the region would be accompanied by a power cut. According to him, the intervention of the authorities “will be beneficial not only for the birds, but also for the inhabitants and the ONEE which will save the recurring maintenance costs”, following the power cuts caused by the electrocution of the birds.

Joined by us, ONEE’s provincial directorate in Guelmim recognizes the electrocution of eagles that has become common in the region. “But this happens at the high-voltage pylons. They are managed by the Ministry of Transport, “says director Ahmed Essakali. However, we tried unsuccessfully to contact the provincial branch of the Ministry of Transport in Guelmim.

The Spanish, ready to transmit their know-how

While waiting for the reaction of the authorities, the militants for the protection of the birds of Morocco seek help with their Spanish counterparts. They recently participated in a seminar on transboundary protection of raptors in the Mediterranean, jointly organized by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Andalusia Junta in Malaga.

“Among the concerns, we talked about the electrocution of birds. This is a real problem for large raptors, which are often endangered species, “explains El Khamlichi. And to add: “With the accumulated experience in the field of electrocution of birds, our colleagues in Andalusia, both those of the Ministry of Environment Junta and those researchers EBD-CSIC [an institute of public research, editor’s note], are willing to collaborate with Morocco in terms of knowledge transfer in the field of protection of dangerous power lines “.

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Ristel Tchounand