Satellites to track threatened birds in Dadia forest

THESSALONIKI – The black vulture, one of the toughest of birds, is threatened with extinction in Europe, and in the Balkans today is only found in the Dadia forest on the Evros River. Experts are planning to monitor the birds’ movements and behavior by satellite to help conserve the remaining population. Two of the Dadia black vultures will be fitted with transmitters that will send signals by satellite as they roam over the forests and rocky peaks of the region. Based on the information received as well as data recorded in the field, the experts hope to be able to find out why the population has been dwindling. This activity, along with many others, is included in the European Union’s Life program titled «Protection of the Dadia Forest’s Birds of Prey» and being carried out by WWF Hellas in cooperation with the Evros prefecture and the Evros Forestry Department and with the support of the municipality of Tycheros. The black vulture, which is given priority protection throughout Europe, has a colony of about 100 individuals in the Evros forest, of which only 25 pairs are breeding adults. According to the coordinator of the program, Costas Liarikos, it provides for the construction of five artificial lakes and two feeding stations to serve as a primary source of food for these birds of prey. This, he said, will hopefully strengthen the birds’ sense of self-preservation. Reforestation is also a top priority for the birds to find nesting places and to hunt. The Dadia biotope is considered a paradise for birds of prey. According to WWF Hellas, of the 38 species of these birds found in Europe, 36 have been observed in Dadia. Some are migratory but spend the winter there, and a total of 20 species nest there.