Census of raptors in Morocco: a first expedition to Guelmim

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