Category Archives: Spain Wildlife News and Updates

Eleven Bonellis eagle chicks reared in 2021

Fantastic to see that the GREFA projects working with the AQUILA a-LIFE project have announced that they have hatched and reared 11 chicks this year (2021) in the two breeding centres. The birds have already been moved to various temporary holding sites across Europe for release in the future.

Eleven Bonellis eagle chicks reared in 2021
Bonellis eagle (Aquila fasciata) in its assisted release area –

AQUILA a-LIFE wants to contribute to increasing the extent of the presence of the Bonelli’s eagle in the western Mediterranean and to reverse its regressive population trend, to help restore the ecosystems where it once lived. The project aims to work towards the recovery of the species over a large geographic (Europe) area at the meta-population scale (not at the scale of small local populations).

Full article in Spanish here:

GREFA (Grupo de Rehabilitación de la Fauna Autóctona y su Hábitat)

GREFA (Group for the Rehabilitation of Native Fauna and its Habitat) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that was founded in 1981 as an association for the study and conservation of nature. Since its creation, GREFA has maintained constant growth both in the development of its activities and projects and in means and resources. (In Spanish)

Vultures killed by poisoning in Castilla y Leon

Pretty terrible news coming from Castilla y Leon this week with around 100 vultures killed by pestide that was possibly ingested first by some sheep that later died and were scavenged upon. (Or, the sheep had been baited with the poison and left out for scavengers to eat)

The affected scavenging birds consumed the remains of four sheep that had died next to a cornfield. The agents are considering all the possibilities, including the likelihood that the episode may have been intentional, targeting predators or even vultures. They are also investigating whether the origin of the poisoning comes from some type of agricultural treatment that may have poisoned the sheep, which then affected the vulture feeding on their carcasses, possibly causing secondary poisoning. Today the Guardia Civil anti-poisoning dog unit from Madrid has joined the search to detect poisons. This morning, blood and tissue samples from the carrion and the dead animals were sent to the Toxicology and Forensic Veterinary Service of the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Murcia to help determine the toxic substances used.

When first reported there were 56 dead birds (54 Griffon Vultures, one Cinereous Vulture and one Black Kite) and 41 alive (38 Griffon Vultures and 3 Cinereous Vultures). Some birds that were sent to recuperation centres have since died making the total dead almost 100.

The Toxicology and Forensic Veterinary Service of the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Murcia received the results of the analysis of the samples from 3 Griffon Vultures, a Cinereous Vulture, a Black kite and two sheep. They confirmed the presence of carbofuran in all the samples submitted, one of the most toxic carbamate pesticides banned for use in the European Union since December 2007. 

Read the full story at the Vulture Conservation Foundation here:

Estepa de los Monegros National Park

  • Waiting for Declaration

Despite its apparent barren landscape this natural area (The future Estepa de los Monegros National Park) is of ​​high ecological value, home to a rich biodiversity and represents one of the best semi-desert areas in all of Europe.

The Sierra de Alcubierre mountain chain crosses the comarca from Northwest to Southeast. Its maximum elevation is 822 meters, at the mountain called Oscuro. The climate is semiarid with scarce rainfall and high temperatures in the autumn. The area has numerous saltwater and freshwater lakes, including the lake of Sariñena and the lake of Gallocanta.

The area’s cultural heritage includes several historical monasteries, including the Monasterio de Santa María de Sigena and the Charterhouse of Las Fuentes.

The proposed area for the future Estepa de los Monegros National Park covers the Aragonese regions of Los Monegros , the Ribera Baja del Ebro and the Central Region, in the provinces of Zaragoza and Huesca, and has an area of ​​28,869 hectares distributed between the municipalities of Alfajarín and Villafranca de Ebro (Central Region), Pina de Ebro (Region of the Ribera Baja del Ebro), Monegrillo, Farlete and Perdiguera (Region of Los Monegros) in Zaragoza and Alcubierre, Lanaja (Los Monegros region) in Huesca.

The natural spaces that make up the Network of National Parks in Spain form a varied mosaic of ecosystems such as marshlands, lava fields, snowy peaks, marine reserves, forests, deserts and river canyons so it is important that the landscape and habitat of Los Monegros be added to this listof protected areas.

The advance of macro-farms and mega-projects of renewable energy add to the threats to this valuable natural space as was the plan some years ago to build a huge Las Vegas casino complex (Gran Scala) so the conservation organization SEO / BirdLife has sent to the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITECO) and the Government of Aragón a proposal to declare the Estepa de Los Monegros National Park.

If declared this would be the first protected natural space designated as a National Park with characteristics of a steppe ecosystem, both in Spain and in Europe, which would place Aragón as a benchmark for observation and study of these valuable ecosystems . The designated territory represents a dozen habitats of community interest, three of which are a priority at European level, and it is home to valuable biodiversity, among which several species of flora and fauna in danger of extinction are present.

See more protected areas in Arágon here at Wildside Holidays.

See the Comarca de los Monegros website (Spanish) here:

Spain found guilty of not protecting Doñanas water supply

Many years ago it was obvious to anyone with an “ecological eye” visiting the area of Doñana that the plastic tunnels filled with flowers and strawberry plants popping up all over the place would obviously need a huge amount of water. Also, the development of Matalascañas as a tourist resort would also require a lot of water for all the hotels and guest apartments etc.

During 2009, the European Commission received several complaints and petitions denouncing the deterioration of habitats in the protected natural area of ​​Doñana caused by cultivation areas for strawberries that require large quantities of water for irrigation. This abstraction from wells and bore holes exceeded, in many areas, the renewal of groundwater, which has led, for many years, to a drop in the areas aquifer level.

More than 10 years later, the complaints have now been heard in the European Court and Spain has been found negligent in its protection of the water supply of the Doñana National Park.

Below are a few quotes translated to English from the courts decision. If you visit the official website you can use the case number or press release number to view the original press release in Spanish or French.

Commission / Spain (Deterioration of the natural area of ​​Doñana)

The Doñana Natural Area located in Andalusia, in the southwest of Spain, includes the Doñana National Park and the Doñana Natural Park. In 2006, three protected areas of Community importance under the Habitats Directive are also designated in the area. Doñana (already a bird conservation area since 1987 ), Doñana Norte y Oeste and Dehesa del Estero y Montes by Moguer.

In the summing up in the European court it was found that Spain should have taken illegal water abstraction and urban water abstraction into account when estimating groundwater abstraction in the Doñana region and In addition, it has not taken the appropriate steps to stop excessive and in many cases illegal water extraction in the protected habitats located in the national park.

The Commission considered that this situation constituted a breach of Union law, namely the prohibition of deterioration provided for by the Water Framework Directive as well as, with regard to various habitats in protected areas which dry up due to the drop in groundwater levels, the deterioration ban provided for by the “habitats” directive. She therefore brought an action for failure to fulfill obligations against Spain.

In today’s judgment, (24th June 2021) the court notes that Spain has failed to fulfill its obligations under the Water Framework Directive.

Spain did not take into account illegal water abstraction and water abstraction for urban supply when estimating groundwater abstraction in the Doñana region under of the more detailed characterization of the hydrological plan of Guadalquivir 2015-2021. The hydrological plan of Guadalquivir 2015-2021 does not contain all the information necessary to determine the impact of human activity on the bodies of groundwater in the region of Doñana. In the program of measures established within the framework of the current hydrological plan there are no measures in place to prevent a disturbance of the types of protected habitats located in the Doñana protected area by the abstraction of groundwater. for the needs of the tourist area of ​​Matalascañas.

The Court finds that the Commission has sufficiently demonstrated the likelihood that the excessive abstraction of water for the urban supply of the tourist area of ​​Matalascañas has caused significant disturbances in the protected habitats of the Doñana protected area.

This disturbance of protected habitats should therefore have been taken into account in the program of measures drawn up by Spain as part of the Guadalquivir hydrological plan 2015-2021, in order to put an end to the deterioration already observed in habitat types such as the Mediterranean temporary pools. Also, the program of measures invoked by Spain does not contain measures aimed at stopping the deterioration already observed in the varied habitats in the protected area near Matalascañas.

The Court notes that several scientific studies show that the overexploitation of the Doñana aquifer has led to a drop in the level of groundwater causing constant disturbance of the protected areas of the Doñana Protected Natural Area. This data shows, in particular, the impact on water catchments caused by the urban supply of the tourist area of ​​Matalascañas and on the ecosystems of the Doñana protected area, especially on the priority habitat types constituted by the Mediterranean temporary ponds.

The studies also confim that the deterioration of these habitats persists and that the state of these habitats will continue to deteriorate due to the drop in the groundwater level of the aquifer and that Spain has not taken the necessary measures to put an end to such deterioration by controlling the illegal extraction of ground water.

My opinion

Its so sad. This is a NATIONAL PARK, a BIOSPHERE RESERVE and has had hundreds of millions in financing over the many years that it has been declared a protected area. Some of the finest biologists and scientists have dedicated their lifes work to this environment and the wildlife that resides here. It is nothing more than a disgrace that the Spanish government has allowed, and continues to allow this to happen. So that we can eat strawberries in January?? Really?

Also, 10 years to get this to court?

Iberia Nature Forum

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Bearded Vultures in Tinença de Benifassà Natural Park

Fantastic news to see that the re introduction project in Spain has become so successful over the last few years with three more Bearded Vulture in Tinença de Benifassà Natural Park using the hacking method this week.

The hacking method involves releasing chicks that hatched in captivity at an artificial nest in suitable habitat to acclimatize to the natural environment for the coming weeks before they take their first flights. With this technique, the nestlings can associate the place where they are released with the area of hatching so that when they reach breeding age, which is around 8-10 years old, they select these places to breed. When Bearded Vultures are young, they tend to travel vast distances and explore new regions, but once they become sexually mature, they tend to select areas close to where they hatched to breed.

Read the full article on the Vulture Conservation Foundation here:

Read about the Bearded Vulture here:

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Introduced and invasive species in Spain

Increasing in population sizes and going about their invasive business un noticed for many years, introduced and invasive species in Spain have now become more researched in recent years and the damage they do to local ecosystems is impossible to deny or disprove.

A pioneering and informative guide addresses the problem of invasive alien species (IAS) in a simple and visual format to help society identify them and advance their knowledge, monitoring and management.

The contents of the guide, designed in Portuguese, Spanish and English, include texts, photographs of the species divided into four groups – fungi, invertebrates, fish and other vertebrates.


Casals, F. and Sánchez-González, J. R. (Eds.). 2020. Guide to the alien and invasivespecies of rivers, lakes and estuaries in the Iberian Peninsula. LIFE INVASAQUAProject. Ed. Iberian Society of Ichthyology. 128 pp.

Download the ebook here:

Below is the invasive species list contained in the guide

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