Effect of human activities on Egyptian vulture breeding success


Iñigo Zuberogoitia, Estudios Medioambientales Icarus s.l. Pintor Sorolla, 6, 1° C, 26007 Logroño, La Rioja, Spain.
Email: zuberogoitia@icarus.es


Habitat loss, electrocution on power poles and persecution by humans are the main threats to birds of prey. Nevertheless, the effects of human disturbance on endangered species are becoming notorious due to the increasing recreational use of the natural environment. We evaluated the effects of human disturbances on Egyptian vulture Neophron percnopterus breeding success and developed conservation measures based on minimum distance of effect and buffer areas in a high human density area of northern Spain. A total of 100 breeding attempts of 15 breeding pairs were monitored over 8 years. Human disturbances affected 42 of the breeding attempts. Those disturbances related to and originating in forestry work had the most severe effect on breeding success, being associated with the loss of 100% of 13 breeding attempts, while human disturbances related to free-time activities caused 44% failures in 25 breeding attempts by four pairs, two of them within Natural Parks. The breeding success was significantly less in territories affected by disturbances than in those free of disturbances. Some pairs affected by disturbances changed their nest site, increasing breeding success. Adults were prevented from entering the nest to feed chicks when anyone was detected at an average distance of 307 m, while an average distance of 837.5 m allowed them access. The maximum alert distance was estimated at 605 m and the buffer area was 57 ha. We discuss the application of our results for management schemes and conservation of this species.