This initiative of the research group for the protection of birds in Morocco (GREPOM) is a response to an emergency situation. Trapped in an area where non adapted electrical pylons are set up, tens of raptors, sometimes rare, are killed by electrocution on a daily basis.
This is carnage for big raptors in the region of Guelmim. The research group for the protection of birds in Morocco (GREPOM) was among the first associations to sound the alarm about an issue that is ravaging populations of all kinds of migratory eagles. Since then, the GREPOM launched an initiative to collect data and find solutions to establish a partnership with the concerned structures and authorities.
The quest of the lost eagle
It all started when Spanish researchers have seen that an Iberian eagle’s GPS signal stop right after its migration to Morocco in October 2015.
Since the researchers from the two Mediterranean shores often collaborate in tracking migrations, Ali Irizi, a member of GREPOM, has volunteered to go to the field and check the fate of the large raptor. On field, Ali discovered a real slaughter. “It was a massacre! In only one place, I found a Bonelli eagle, a royal eagle and three Iberian ones, including the one I was looking for, all electrocuted to death,” said Ali.
GREPOM rings the alarm
Following this gruesome discovery, the research group reviewed the situation and rang the alarm. For the scientists of the association, the black spot detected in the region of Guelmim has caused important damage to the populations of migratory birds. Located in the migration corridor, a prey-rich area but without natural perches, the place is a fatal trap.
A race against the clock
For birdwatchers, several emergency measures were to be taken. These include securing the medium voltage installations studies on the impact on the environment, and upgrade facilities in sensitive migration areas.
For several months, the number of electrocutions dropped as the season of migration has already passed. Currently, the GREPOM anticipates and hopes to get as soon as possible results terms of the creation of solutions, because the season of migration will resume very soon as winter is coming.
Mohamed Aziz El-AgbaniVice-president
3, Résidence OUM HANI 3, Avenue Ouali Al Had Sidi Mohamed
"Mortality by electrocution in this area reaches values similar to those which produced the decline of breeding raptor populations in other parts of the world. It can affect the dynamics of population and the conservation of not only Moroccan raptors, but also the European populations of Iberian imperial and Bonelli eagles. "
The results obtained on field and presented in a report published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) quantifies for the first time the impact of electrocution by collision with electric power lines on the populations of prey birds in North Africa. Indeed, the report shows that electrocution is a serious and substantial threat to raptor populations, not only in Morocco but also in the Iberian Peninsula. In addition, many species are affected by this issue, including the highly endangered Iberian imperial eagle. This report is the fruit of collaboration between groups of Spanish and Moroccan experts, representatives of the Government of Andalusia, the Spanish NGO AMUS, and members of the Moroccan NGO GREPOM / BirdLife. In addition, the team also had the support of agents and technicians of the Office of Water and Forests in Morocco. This collaboration has identified for the first time in North Africa a black spot of prey birds’ mortality by electrocution.
Source : IUCN
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