Reports, studies and protocols

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This report contains information about the population status of Griffon Vulture in Cyprus from late 2021 until the end of 2022. The report also evaluates and presents mortality events for that period as well as response in poisoning incidents. Relatively to the population status, the report also presents the observations and conclusions from the breeding monitoring.

2nd Annual Report on vulture population status in Cyprus and state-of-play regarding poisoning and collision incidents

Collisions on high-voltage power lines is a well recorded threat to bird species in Europe and beyond. Flying into cables can cause severe injuries that often lead to death or irreversible damage. Placement of anti-collision markers on power lines can significantly reduce the probability of collision as they become visible to flying birds and can be avoided. In order to best allocate resources, BirdLife Cyprus conducted an analysis to identify power lines that pose the highest risk of collision for Griffon Vultures in Cyprus. Through the data obtained from the GPS tracks fitted to 14 individuals we were able to determine the vultures’ main flyways and identify locations with increased risk of collision. The Electricity Authority of Cyprus, by recognizing the risk posed by the powerline network and the need to mitigate it, cooperated with the project team and proceeded with the marking of selected powerlines around Paramali and Kourris Dam.


Preventing poison bait use requires addressing underlying motives. Stakeholder meetings with government bodies, NGOs, and relevant groups such as livestock breeders and hunters, yielded suggestions for minimizing wildlife – human and human-human conflicts. Proposed actions for mitigating these conflicts include: studying predator impacts on livestock species, subsidizing livestock fencing, controlling fox population where necessary, compensating livestock losses due to predator attacks, and raising awareness about poison bait risks. Recommendations for human-human conflicts include limiting hunting dogs, updating hunting license processes,  reducing numbers of stray dogs, involving hunting clubs to combat illegal activities, banning photos of hunted game on social media, and increasing patrols in high-risk areas to deter baiting.

Recommendations to solve the human-wildlife and human-human conflicts (Action 2)

The Unit of Forensic Chemistry and Toxicology of the State General Laboratory (SGL) is the reference lab for toxicological analysis in Cyprus. It is primarily specialised in the detection of drugs and medicines in items of the Police and Hospital samples, in cases related to forensic investigation of unnatural deaths, driving under the influence of substances (narcotic or alcoholic), and emergencies from hospitals for which poisoning is suspected.

Prior to 2018, we identified a gap in capacity for analyses relating to wildlife poisoning incidents which was a drawback for efforts to tackle the poisoning threat. The Game and Fauna Service consulted the Veterinary Services and State General Laboratory to establish a way to examine samples from poisoning incidents and identify poisoning agent. The report evaluates the capacities of the Veterinary Services and State General Laboratory on procedures and techniques on handling samples from suspected poisoning cases.

The SGL is now the primary agent that deals with toxicological analyses in cases where poisoned baits have been used due to the absence of a National Wildlife Forensic Lab. The cases that demand toxicological analyses for animal and wild bird poisoning account for 5 – 10% of all cases examined by the SGL annually.

Records show that during the last 16 years (2005-2020) the Veterinary Services have conducted forensic necropsies for samples taken from around 65 different poisoning incidents that included dead/affected, domestic or wild animals, and/or just poisoned baits. Forensic necropsy for such evidence is an essential part of the investigation of suspected poisoning incidents.

Evaluation of capacity for necropsy and toxicological analysis

Investigating a poisoning incident and ultimately pursuing prosecution require collective effort, coordination, and collaboration among various relevant authorities. Such an incident begins with crime scene analysis, collection and management of evidence, autopsies in cases of victims, toxicological examinations, pre-investigative work to identify the perpetrator, and ultimately criminal prosecution. The establishment of the Protocol of Actions for Poisoning Incidents in the Countryside guides the actions of all involved authorities in responding to and managing poisoning incidents in the countryside, thus ensuring the successive chain of evidence circulation. The Protocol was agreed upon and signed on June 27, 2023, by the involved competent services: the Cyprus Police, the Game and Fauna Service, the Veterinary Services, the State General Laboratory, while the overall effort was coordinated by BirdLife Cyprus.

Protocol for handling poisoning incidents in the countryside

Between 1996 and 2000 the appearance of bovine spongiform encephalopathy became one of the most serious public health and political crises concerning food safety ever experienced in the European Union (EU) (Margalida A. et al., 2010). To manage this crisis the EU introduced sanitary regulations (implementation of Decision 2000/418 / EC) that lead to changes in the management of livestock carcasses and prohibited the abandonment of dead livestock in the field, affecting the food availability for scavenger species, including Vultures (Mateo-Tomás2009; Margalida et al. 2010). To meet the target of environmental policies the EU introduced a number of dispositions to the EU regulations (2003/322/CE & 2005/830/CE) and enabled conservation managers to provide food to vultures through the creation of vulture feeding station. In 2011 a new regulation was approved (EC 142/2011) to allow farmers to leave some carcasses of cattle raised in extensive systems in the so-called ‘Protection areas for the feeding of necrophagous species of European interest’ (PAFs).

The report provides a review of the current legislative framework and regulation in Cyprus on carcass disposal and supplementary feeding sites for vultures and compares it to the latest EU regulation (142/2011). The report also describes the practical implementation of the regulations in Cyprus and identifies best practices and produces recommendations.

A7 – Review of sanitary regulations in Cyprus and recommendations

This report is the first presenting the operation and findings of the two Anti-poison Dog Units (ApDUs) operating in Cyprus, and it aims to summarise the first 8 months of their work between May and December 2022. The report describes the first systematic efforts to monitor poisoned bait use in countryside areas of Cyprus, recording impacts on wildlife and domestic animals. Motives behind the use of poisoned baits and the impact of poisonings on Griffon Vultures are explored through the data collected by the ApDUs. The contribution of the ApDUs in police investigation and crucial communication and awareness work is also highlighted in the report.

Δράση Ομάδων Ανίχνευσης Δηλητηριασμένων Δολωμάτων_ Ετήσια Αναφορά 2022 (summary in English)

This leaflet summarises the suggested solutions discussed during consultation meetings on the issue of poison bait placement in countryside areas of Cyprus. The main stakeholders who hold information, insights and experiences in the human-human and human-wildlife conflicts that drive the need for poisoned baits were identified and invited to assist in drawing up alternative solutions to the underlying conflicts. During consultation meetings with the key stakeholders, the potential motives for the use of poison baits were identified, followed by recommendations and operational solutions addressing actions of both competent authorities and local stakeholders to reduce tolerance of poison bait placement. This report gives a brief outline of the reasons behind the use of poisoned baits and the associated consequences to wildlife before introducing the suggested solution which are categorised under human-wildlife and human-human conflict.

Action_A.2_Layman’s report_Social_study

The study focuses on analysing the provisions of current legislation and administrative practice, relating to the use of poison baits in Cyprus. It follows a methodology to identify legal gaps or administrative weaknesses in handling such incidents. It provides a clear analysis of past poisoning incidents and records action taken by the relevant authorities. The study concluded that there are no gaps in the current national legislation. On the contrary, it concludes that under the current legislation, adequate protection is provided to the Griffon Vulture. However, the study identifies issues in the management of the illegal use of poisoned baits and makes suggestions for improvement. Some examples of suggestions are to increase capacity of involved stakeholders, to use tools for the better detection of poison baits in the countryside and improvement of response and operational procedures in poison use incidents.

The summary of the study’s findings (in Greek) can be found at this link: Assessment Study Summary web

The database categorises records of Griffon Vulture mortality from 2003 to 2020 into mass mortality events and individual cases of mortality. This is due to the fact that the death of many individuals could be the result of a single mortality event. The database also includes the cause of death for each mortality incident, which can be shooting, poisoning, or collision with power lines. Overall, it enables the analysis of mortality data and drawing of conclusions on high-risk areas for poisoning, illegal shooting, electrocution and collisions with overhead power lines as it contains the location for each record of mortality.

A poster was created to present mortality results between 1996 and 2023. The main cause of mortality to Griffon Vultures during this period was poisoning followed by collision and electrocution incidents on electricity infrastructure.

Analysis of causes for mortality for the Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus in Cyprus

This user-friendly database contains 114 highly suspected or confirmed poisoning incidents from 1996 to 2020. It also contains key information about the findings at the crime scene, the type of poison baits used, and information on the administrative procedure followed by the competent authorities (the Game and Fauna Service, Veterinary Services, State General Lab, and Police). The database records information on the location (community/village/place name) that each incident took place and if possible, the geographic coordinates for finer spatial scale analysis purposes. Furthermore, this database includes the results from necropsies conducted by the Veterinary Services, the relevant toxicological tests performed by the State General Lab, and the toxic substances identified. Consequently, this database enables the analysis and mapping of these records in ArcGIS software, and the subsequent identification of high-risk areas for poisoning. The structure of the database also allows for easy data manipulation by specific data selection and the creation of different subsamples that helps analysis of data. For instance, based on this database we can identify high-risk areas for poisoning of Vultures that will further enable us to focus conservation and awareness raising efforts.

The baseline socio-economic and awareness level study has been carried out in the areas covering the feeding and breeding range of Gyps fulvus. The study provides an overview of the main motives for the use of poisoned baits, from where and how the poison is obtained, the level of awareness of the users on the negative impacts of this tactic and the benefits generated by Vultures. At the same time, the study provides a baseline on the awareness level of stakeholders regarding specific aspects of poison-use, the Griffon Vulture population in Cyprus as well as the Natura 2000 network. In general, the study reveals which groups of stakeholders mostly practice use of poisoned baits and the underlying motives. The study/report also included baseline indicators that will be used to assess the impact of the project’s communication campaign (Action E2.3).

The report presents the rationale, methods and results of the study on potential contributions of Griffon Vultures to ecosystem services in Cyprus (action A3). The first section of this report presents a thorough review of literature relating to vultures and ecosystem services, followed by an assessment of indicators that could be used to assess Griffon Vulture contributions to ecosystem services in Cyprus, following the CICES classification. A first quantitative assessment of how Griffon Vultures could contribute to ecosystem services estimated that replacing vehicular livestock carcass collection by facilitating carcass consumption by vultures could result in a 43-61% reduction in financial costs and greenhouse house gas emissions. An assessment of contributions to cultural ecosystem services estimated that vulture-related recreation could contribute to €648,818 revenue to core range communities each year. Preliminary estimates for other ecosystem service contributions are presented. The results of this study informed the population viability study (action A4) and the population reinforcement feasibility study (action C4), as well as the development of action C2 (increasing feeding opportunities). The study also identified where additional data could be collected via monitoring actions to provide information about stakeholder perceptions of Griffon Vultures and their potential contributions to ecosystem services.

The layperson’s summary presents the main findings (including the conceptual diagram) of the study on potential contributions of Griffon Vultures to ecosystem services in Cyprus.

A3 – Study on contribution of Griffon Vultures to ecosystem services in Cyprus – Layperson’s summary

This report presents the results of action A4: Population Viability Analysis (PVA) of the Cyprus Griffon Vulture population under different management scenarios. The aim of the study was to estimate the probability of persistence of the Griffon Vulture population in Cyprus under current conditions and to explore which management interventions are likely to be effective for creating the necessary conditions for the population to (i) increase from 20 individuals to the target of 45 individuals by the end of the project; and (ii) to reach the estimated carrying capacity of 200 individuals and persist through the long term. Population growth rates and probabilities of extinction under different management scenarios were compared to the baseline scenario, which is equivalent to the current conditions based upon a combination of original data and published data from other relevant sources. The creation of the different management scenarios was based upon known threats to the Cyprus Griffon Vulture population, and the conservation interventions planned during the current project. Sensitivity analyses confirmed that poisoning frequency is the main factor driving a high probability of extinction for the Cyprus Griffon Vulture population. However, reducing the frequency of poisoning incidents in combination with population supplementation and other measures to reduce mortality and increase reproductive output were predicted to increase the probability of population recovery within a 25-year period and enable long-term survival. The report was used to inform the supplementation and release strategy for the population reinforcement programme (action C4), as well as confirming that actions to reduce poisoning (and other anthropogenic mortality) will be necessary. At the end of the project, the PVA model can be used to compare these baseline predictions with the observed population vital rates. 


With such a small Griffon Vulture population in Cyprus saving even one individual is absolutely fundamental for the survival of the species. A Veterinary Protocol for vulture rescue & rehabilitation has been added to our toolbox in the fight to conserve the Griffon Vulture in Cyprus.

The Veterinary Protocol describes procedures required to maximize the chances of survival of poisoned vultures. It covers everything from basic handling techniques to medication dosages and clinical management of vultures, in order to save them and successfully reintroduce them back to the wild. The protocol defines those details that are crucial for the successful reintroduction of each individual of such an endangered species. The document has been prepared by MV Dr Constantinos Antoniou in collaboration with the Game and Fauna Service and is addressed to wildlife specialists, game wardens, veterinarians and volunteers and is available here.

This deliverable consists of two maps; 1) one map is showing the areas of high overlap between Griffon Vulture GPS tracks and the power line network, and 2) a second map showing the areas of high overlap between GPS localisations and the power line network. The power lines falling within these areas of high overlap are identified as the most dangerous power lines for vulture collision. These maps also depict the boundaries of the merged home and core ranges of the two GPS-fitted vultures, the locations of active nests during 2020, locations of feeding stations and acclimatization aviaries, and locations of other key feeding sites in relation to the power line network (both medium- and high-voltage lines).

This plan provides for the replication of project methods in the same way and the same purposes by other entities and for the transfer of project methods in a different way or for a different purpose. It identifies actions that could potentially replicated or transferred, as well as other species or entities that can be benefited by the methods applied in this project. Finally, it provides planning for the implementation of actions within project duration that will enable replication and transfer.

Deliverable A9_Transferability and Replicability Plan_FINAL

The map contains the approximate locations of historical breeding colonies of the species on the island which were found through old articles and posters made during previous efforts to safeguard the species. It also contains the active nests during 2020, locations where there were records of nesting activity during the last decade, the existing feeding stations and acclimatization aviaries.

Due to sensitive data the map is not available here. Please contact BirdLife Cyprus at to request it.

The feasibility study is an assessment of the need for restocking Griffon Vultures in Cyprus and an assessment of factors associated with conservation translocations that may affect the species, ecosystem functions and human activities. Through this assessment, the feasibility study provides answers to the question whether the population reinforcement is necessary and feasible. The assessment follows examples of other LIFE projects and guidelines recommended by AEWA and IUCN.

The study is available upon request from BirdLife Cyprus at

This deliverable contains information about the population status of Griffon Vulture in Cyprus from the start of the project in October 2019 until the end of 2020. The report also evaluates and presents the level of poisoned bait use, thecollisions on power lines, the shooting of vultures, and the effects of these threats on the Cypriot population. Moreover, it highlights any improvements or gaps in the management of poisoning incidents, as well as in minimising other non-natural mortality. Relatively to the population status, the report also presents the observations and conclusions from the breeding monitoring. Specifically, it contains detailed information gathered during all breeding monitoring surveys such as, nesting sites, signs of territorial behaviour, existence of active nests, whether there was successful hatching of the eggs, fledglings, and more general observations such as the identity of individuals observed (where possible).

Due to sensitive data the report is not available here. Please contact BirdLife Cyprus at to request it.

This report contains guidelines from the EC’s Handbook on green public procurement, which will guide the Game and Fauna Service to choose environmentally friendly goods, services, and works. It also provides a guide with widely recognized eco-labelling schemes and their meaning, thus allowing the identification of environmentally sustainable goods and services based on these eco-labels. The report (Greek only) is available here.

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