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Workshops and events

MAFRC participates in training on the identification criteria for…

On Saturday, February 23, 2019, at the Natural History Museum of Marrakech, a training workshop was held on the criteria for identifying Moroccan raptors. This training was given by Mohamed Radi of GREPOM (Groupe de Recherche pour la Protection des Oiseaux au Maroc), Karim Rousselon of AMFCR (Association Marocaine pour la Fauconnerie et la Conservation des Rapaces) and Fabrice Cuzin (Consultant in protected areas and impact studies), in partnership with Cady Ayyad University (UCA), the Natural History Museum of Marrakech and the High Commission for Water and Forests and the Fight against Desertification (HCEFLCD).

 The objectives of the training were to strengthen the capacity to identify birds in the wild, in particular within the framework of the ATLAS Programme for the National Census of Birds of Prey in Morocco. The ATLAS Programme should eventually allow the acquisition of data to better understand the dynamics of raptor populations in Morocco, in order to optimize the Conservation of species that have been deemed most threatened.

The audience present consisted of members of GREPOM and other NGOs, representatives of the DREF (Regional administration of the High Commission for Water and Forests and the Fight against Desertification) and PhD students from the UCA.

The workshop started at 9am with a presentation by Mr Karim Rousselon of the ATLAS Programme for the census of raptors in the Mediterranean region initiated by IUCN, while emphasizing the contribution of HCEFLCD and Moroccan NGOs as well as the modalities for the implementation of this census project.

This workshop was attended by about twenty participants made up of members of GREPOM, representatives of the Regional Directorate of Water and Forests of the High Atlas (DREF), PhD students and a representative of a Saffron Association. The Powerpoint presentation was made by Mr. Radi Mohamed (Coordinator of the Marrakech-Haut Atlas-GREPOM unit) and was presented by Mr. Karim Rousselon, President of the AMFCR (Moroccan Association for Sausage and Raptor Conservation), with the participation of Mr. Fabrice Cuzin.

Frequent exchanges between participants and trainers punctuated the presentation. The quality of the presentation and the information provided by the speakers contributed not only to the acquisition of techniques and methods for identifying birds of prey, but also to the enrichment of knowledge of the ecology, behaviour and distribution of these birds in Morocco.

At the end of the presentation, the question and answer session was followed by a coffee break and the workshop ended at 12:30 pm, after the photo of the group of participants. Further such sessions will be organized in the future.

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
Recovery & Rehabilitation

A difficult start to the year for the Eagles…

On 17 decembre 2018, the High Commission for Water, Forests and the Fight against Desertification (HCEFLCD), together with the MAFRC, the Consejería de Medio Ambiente de la Junta de Andalucia and the Fondacion MIGRES, released an immature female Iberian Eagle (Aquila adalberti) after having equipped it with a GPS tracker. This bird, recovered in a state of distress in the Bouznika region on 18/11/2018, was treated and rehabilitated for nearly a month by the AMFCR, before recovering a physical condition deemed satisfactory to be able to return to nature.

Iberian eagle M06 freshly equipped with a GPS tracker, a few minutes before its release – Bouznika – 17/12/2018 – Karim LAIDI

More than 2000 kilometers and a month later, on 15/01/2019, the Iberian Eagle M06 was found dead in Dakhla Bay by Nicolò Calcagno. As no autopsy could have been performed, the cause of death will unfortunately remain unknown. Although no evidence of fracture was found, the lifeless body of the eagle appears to have drifted into Dakhla Bay a few days before being stranded on the beach, where it will be found.

Dead body of the Iberian Eagle M06 found dead on the beach – Bay of Dakhla – 25/01/2019 – Nicolò Calcagno

The plucked Eagle of Bonneli

On 05/06/2018, HCEFLCD and AMFCR released an immature female Bonelli’s Eagle (Aquila fasciata) that had accidentally been caught in the protective nets of a poultry farm. The bird was banded OPX and released in the Bouznika area. On 08/01/2019, 217 days after being released, AMFCR was contacted by a resident of the Sidi Bettache region who claimed to have caught the eagle while he was trying to attack one of his hens. Habits definitely have a hard life! The bird will be recovered by the AMFCR the next day, alive, but unfortunately all its remnants have been cut with scissors. OPX has been placed in a rehabilitation aviary, where he will stay until he has moulted all his feathers, which will take several months.

Recovery of Bonelli’s Eagle OPX, attached by a leg in the henhouse – Sidi Bettache – 10/01/2019 – Karim ROUSSELON

The mysterious death of a Royal Eagle

Finally, on 12/12/2018, HCEFLCD and AMFCR released an immature female Royal Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) ringed M01. This bird, handed over to the AMFCR care centre in 2017 after being illegally disarmed, will be rehabilitated for many months thanks to the use of falconry techniques. The bird will be found dead on 25/01/2019 in Bir Nasser (Benslimane region) by the USCFS (Unité de Surveillance et de Contrôle de la Faune Sauvage), which will hand over the body to the local ONSSA (Office National de Sécurité Sanitaire des produits Alimentaires) for a viral analysis, which will turn out to be negative. No autopsy on the cause of death will be performed.

Release Royal Eagle M01. Bouznika – 12/12/2018 – Karim LAIDI

Prospects for the future

These 3 examples partially illustrate the difficult conditions in which large raptors must operate, and the many dangers they face, even if in the 2 mortality cases mentioned above, no autopsy could be carried out. In the future, autopsies of found dead birds of prey should be systematized through specific training for ONSSA technicians, so as to clearly identify the causes of mortality and, if necessary, take corrective measures.

However, all hopes are not lost because 2 other Bonelli’s Eagles (M046 and M041) and an Iberian Eagle (UP) equipped with GPS beacons continue to provide useful data to this day. In 2019 and 2020, AMFCR, in collaboration with HCEFLCD and IUCN, will place around 30 GPS beacons on raptors. This major operation will provide essential information for the implementation of specific conservation plans for the most threatened birds of prey in the Kingdom.

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.

Gypaète bird migration

Carloza: MAFRC presents the situation of the bearded vulture…

At Carloza in Spain, the Moroccan Association for Falconry and Raptors Conservation (MAFCR) was invited to participate in the annual meeting “Bearded Vulture” from 9 to 11 November. During this event, the AMFCR presented the situation of the species in Morocco.

The Annual Meeting brought together lots of ideas from the research and monitoring of the species. Importantly for the International Bearded Vulture Monitoring Network it was concluded that there was an urgent need to mark wildborn birds to help improve the demographic models of the population. There is also a need to improve data management of bearded vulture mortality to detect and identify causes.

Recovery & Rehabilitation

Salé: MAFRC recovers a marked Griffon Vulture


On November 19, the moroccan Association for Falconry and Raptors Conservation (MAFRC) was contacted by Mr. Aziz habitant of Sale, who recovered a Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) on its terrace, on a hot August afternoon.

Exhausted, thirsty and attracted by a basin of water, the vulture was easily captured by Aziz, who took care of it daily before handing it to the MARFC. According to the instructions of the High Commission for Water and Forests and the fight against desertification (HCEFLCD), the vulture was taken to the National Zoological Garden (JZN) where he will receive appropriate care in the company of other vultures of his kind.

This bird was already “known by our services”. Indeed, reports Rachid El Khamlichi of Grepom Nord-Ouest

This Griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus) has been identified by a wing mark M17. It was discovered on 31/07/2017 by soldiers near Judah Jbel Moussa in a very critical situation, suffering from malnutrition and a lack of vitamis and suffered from nervous attacks. After being treated satisfactorily, her physical condition recovered to 100%

Because of its all too familiar nature with humans, several attempts at liberation have been made in the Jbel Moussa area without result.
However, it disappears on June 6, 2018 and reappears in the Oued el Mersa area on June 8, 2018, (information provided by Chekh Hassan). Recovered the same day, it will take off again 2 days later, to reappear in Salé in August 2018!

M17 is expected to remain for some time in an acclimatization aviary before attempting another release soon, when conditions permit and if the healers feel that their physical and mental condition allows it.

Workshops and events

AMFCR attends the 2018 Annual General Meeting of the…

 

In Bamberg, Germany, the Moroccan Association for Falconry and Raptors Conservation participated on October 22 at the General Assembly of the International Association for Falconry and Preservation of Birds of Prey (IAF). The two flagship events this year were the IAF’s 50th anniversary celebration and the election of His Excellency Majid Mansouri as its head.

 

 MAFRC participated from October 21-24 in Bamberg, Germany, to the IAF Annual General Meeting. The non-profit organization’s mission is to safeguard the Art of Falconry and has a network of some 115 clubs and specialized institutions in more than 90 countries around the world. Several activities were on the agenda of this assembly, but the specificity of this year was the election of His Excellency Majid Mansouri, who replaces Dr. Adrian Lombard as President of the IAF.

Another anniversary was also celebrated, that of the Falkenorden (DFO), the main organization of German Falconry, and affiliated to the IAF. The AMFCR was notably invited to the meeting of the National Delegates as well as to the various flying hunts.

Election of His Excellency Majid Mansouri, first IAF Arab President:

Another highlight that has taken place this year is the election of His Excellency Majid Mansouri to head the IAF. This is the first time since the creation of the IAF that a president of Arab origin is elected at its head. During his tenure as IAF Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa region, His Excellency Majid Ali Al Mansouri developed the IAF strategy for this region.

As a founding member and Secretary General of the Emirates Falconers’ Club, he contributed to the Sheikh Zayed program, releasing more than 1,600 hawks into the wild. He also founded the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital and worked on projects to increase the number of Houbaras. In 2008, His Excellency Majid Al Mansouri received the “Best Environmental Personality” award at the Gulf States Cooperation Council.

 

رخمة Recovery & Rehabilitation

“PHOENIX”: resurrection of an electrocuted Egyptian Vulture

The Moroccan Association for Falconry and Raptors Conservation (MAFRC) with the coordination of the of the High Commission for Water and Forests and the Fight against Desertification (HCEFLCD) rehabilitated, marked and then successfully released an electrocuted Egyptian vulture -Neophron percnopterus-. Thanks to multiple treatments and a feather transplant, the Vulture was able to take off and resume its migration to the south.

   As the legendary bird and symbol of resurrection, endowed with great longevity and characterized by its power to be reborn after being consumed in the flames, we could not find a better name than “PHOENIX” to this Egyptian vulture, which miraculously survived an electrocution on a medium voltage pylon. On March 27th, informed by Mr. Mohamed Chaibi citizen of Ifrane, the MAFRC was able to proceed with the recovery of PHOENIX.

The Egyptian vulture is the most endangered species among the four vulture species of the Western Palearctic. The species classified “DANGER” in the red list of IUCN, is in a more than vulnerable situation, which justifies the deployment of all the possible actions to favor its Conservation.

At the time of recovery, PHOENIX suffered multiple burns, including the right paw, in addition to the loss of 5 primary primaries on its right wing, charred at the time of electrocution on a medium voltage pylon.

After the agreement and with the coordination of the of the High Commission for Water and Forests and the Fight against Desertification (HCEFLCD), the MARFC recovered PHOENIX March 27 to try a rehabilitation and a reintegration in its environment. The Vulture has received several treatments and care as well as a delicate operation of feather implantation. The so-called enter technique is usually used in Falconry and involves taking feathers from a “donor bird” and “grafting” them into the damaged feathers of a recipient bird. This method set up centuries ago by falconers to repair the broken feathers of their birds during hunt parties is now used for rehabilitation and conservation purposes.

The Egyptian Vulture was subsequently equipped with a 50 gram GPS beacon, courtesy of the Max Planck Center for Animal Marking, represented by Dr. Wolfgang Fiedler. He was and also banded (Inst Sci Rabat 104) on the right tarsus and carries on the left tarsus a ring DARVIC of yellow color M05.

The Egyptian Vulture was subsequently equipped with a 50 gram GPS tracker, it was and also banded (Inst Sci Rabat 104) on the right tarsus and carries on the left tarsus a ring DARVIC of yellow color M05.

 

PHOENIX successfully took off on August 3rd at Jbel Moussa as directed by the High Commission for Water and Forests and the Fight against Desertification (HCEFLCD) and with the assistance of GREPOM Nord-Ouest and MAFRC. Demonstrating a perfect recovery, the Egyptian Vulture flew without difficulty, arousing much emotion among the team that participated in the release.

 

PHOENIX stayed more than 15 days in the hinterland of Larache, where he was observed for 25 minutes on 17/08/2018 by a member of the AMFCR. It began its migration south on 21/08/2018, traveling an average of 270 kms per day before reaching the Algero-Mauritanian border, where it issued its last known position on August 24, 2018. At this date, the battery of the tracker was near the lowest threshold and most likely extinguished. It is possible that there was dirt or feathers covering the solar panel, which prevented the correct charging of the battery.

 

At this point, the only option is to wait. The next time the tracker has a GSM connection and enough energy, it will emit a GPS position. High-resolution GPS tracking of birds reveals the threats they face. We can see that PHOENIX, during his journey, spent a lot of time around electrical poles where he was directly exposed to lethal electrocutions…

Good wind and quickly reunion!

 

The complete tracking of this bird can be consulted on the Movebank study “Raptors MPIO AMFCR Morocco”.

More infos about the marking.

Recovery & Rehabilitation

Raptors Conservation: MAFRC participates in the third national workshop

During the third workshop for the development of a raptors conservation strategy in Morocco, the MAFRC presented the results of its achievements as well as its project of National Center for the Rehabilitation of Raptors.

The High Commission for Water and Forests and the Fight against Desertification (HCEFLCD) in collaboration with the IUCN Mediterranean Cooperation Center (IUCN-Med) and the Regional Government of Andalusia, organized, from 2 to the 4th October 2018 at Jbel Moussa, a series of trainings on the methods of census and monitoring of birds of prey. The event is part of the series of activities developed for a transfer of knowledge on endangered raptor conservation between technicians and managers from both shores of the Mediterranean.

The MAFRC reveals the results of its rehabilitations

During this third workshop for the development of a raptor conservation strategy in Morocco, the MAFRC presented the report about the rehabilitated raptors during these last 10 months in its provisional center. Participants commended the efforts of the AMFCR and the encouraging results that have been achieved: more than a third of the rehabilitated birds have been able to return to Nature. At the end of the presentation, the AMFCR revealed its plan to create a National Raptor Rehabilitation Center currently under preparation.

On the sidelines of the event, the AMFCR released a rehabilitated griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus). The bird was found in the Bir Jdid area last September. Contacted by the citizen who retrieved it, the AMFCR made the trip and then undertook to rehabilitate the bird of prey, which was not injured but appeared to be suffering from extreme fatigue.

Towards a first census of rupicolous raptors

This third workshop aimed to establish a roadmap in partnership with Moroccan ornithologists of all kinds –GOMAC, AMFCR, AGIR, GREPOM, ASARA– and officials of concerned authorities – HCEFLCD, Royal Gendarmerie – in order to achieve a better knowledge of those species in Morocco. This training is organized within the framework of the project “Safe Flyways – reducing energy infrastructure related to bird mortality in the Mediterranean”, funded by MAVA Foundation.

Several presentations and debates took place during the three days in order to organize a first census of raptors in Morocco. All the participants agreed on the urgent need to carry out this enumeration then a follow-up, which will make it possible to make the good diagnoses and action plans necessary to save threatened species of raptors in Morocco.

Recovery & Rehabilitation

I found a raptor what should I do?

When you come across a raptor in distress, it is necessary to take into consideration certain actions in order to intervene safely while optimizing the chances of its rescue.

Raptors encounter a multitude of dangers during their lives. In some cases, difficult conditions during migration can cause extreme fatigue. It is thus possible to meet tired or injured raptors who may die without intervention.

In other cases, raptors in distress are due to poisoning, electrocution or even persecution of poachers -raptor hunting is illegal in Morocco.

Faced with a raptor in distress, it is necessary to take into consideration certain actions to intervene safely while optimizing the chances of its rescue:

  • The first thing that is necessary to ensure is that the raptor is really in distress: the young nocturnal raptors (owls) who experience their first flight are sometimes clumsy and may give the impression that they are in distress while they are not. Faced with a young nocturnal raptor, it is best not to approach and give it the time and space to take off. If the young raptor is exposed to an immediate danger (cats, car …) the only intervention to be done is to position it in height (a tree, perch).
  • If you have to handle a raptor, you must take precautions to avoid its beak and its claws. Start by covering its head with a cloth allowing it to breathe, but without seeing. Grab it by the back at the height of the shoulders, wings affixed to the body. Hold its arms outstretched with heavy gloves or cloth, be careful not to get too close to people in your immediate vicinity. Be careful not to damage the feathers of the bird during handling.
  • Put it in a cardboard and avoid stressing it. Then put it in a quiet dark place. Do not feed it or give it to drink, and immediately inform the MAFRC (Moroccan Association for Falconry and Raptors Conservation) at: 0666922219.