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The Monachus Project promotes the use of lead free ammunition

Griffon vulture admitted to GREFA, with a flabby head and neck, a proper symptom of lead poisoning.During the last big game season, 67 hunters from 22 municipalities of five provinces and three autonomous communities participated in an experimental test of ammunition. They tested an alternative ammunition to the conventional one, whose lead-based composition means a threat to scavengers.

This action, carried out in the Sierra de la Demanda, was promoted by GREFA´s Monachus Project, which works to recover the cinereous vulture.

The cinereous vulture is one of the six threatened species of birds of prey benefited by the + GRAPEQ project, developed by GREFA from April 2019 to March 2020 thanks to the support of the Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge [].

This specific action was carried out in four drives in which hunters from six hunting quarters in the “Sierra de la Demanda Regional Hunting Reserve” participated: Huerta de Arriba, Tolbaños de Arriba, Neila, Canicosa de la Sierra, Riocavado de la Sierra and Barbadillo de Herreros, all of them in the province of Burgos. For the first time, lead-free ammunition was used collectively in these drives. The following calibres were used: 300WinMag, 7mm, 30-06, 270, and 9.3x62 (made entirely of copper).

Lorena Juste, responsible for the Monachus Project in the Sierra de la Demanda and promoter of the action, distributed the ammunition to the participants (mainly from the Norma brand), donated by the Excopesa company as a collaborating entity in this test. She divided up the ammunition at the start of the drives and collected the unused bullets at the end of each one.

Before the action starts, GREFA organized a meeting with the representatives of the different hunting quarters to present the idea, answer questions and encourage participation. Javier Viñuelas, researcher at the Research Institute of Hunting Resources (IREC), collaborated in this meeting. It was explained that lead-free ammunition has a behavior and effect similar to conventional ammunition and that it is compatible with rifles used with lead bullets, with the incentive of not being toxic to wildlife or human health.

The team from “Veda Abierta” -a Movistar + TV show-  traveled to the area to record the action during one of the battues, although the images were not finally aired.

Participants in the test with lead-free ammunition at the Riocavado de la Sierra (Burgos) hunting station.

Serious threat to iconic species

Every year more than 5,000 tons of lead derived from hunting remained in the field in Spain, with the consequent problem of intoxication of soils, aquifers, animals and humans. Lead is a highly toxic heavy metal, a cumulative poison that the body can´t eliminate. Lead can generate in the animals effects such as anemia, immunodeficiency, bone malformations (due to its incompatibility with calcium) or damage to the nervous system, causing intoxication and death. This threatens numerous species, some of them as emblematic as the imperial eagle, the bearded vulture or the cinereous vulture.

The GREFA´s Monachus Project works to promote not only the knowledge and the opportunity to try an alternative ammunition for free, but we try to raise awareness about the need for a change in habits in the hunting sector that would have an impact on the conservation of biodiversity threatened. But this will never be viable without the goodwill of the hunters themselves, who bet for themselves to be respectful of the environment they enjoy.

Collaborate with the Monachus Project in the conservation of the cinereous vulture:

Participants in the test with lead-free ammunition at the Barbadillo de Herreros hunting station (Burgos).

A moment of the recording of "Veda Abierta" TV show, by Movistar +, during the test with lead-free ammunition held in the Sierra de la Demanda.

Lorena Juste, responsible for the Monachus Project in the Sierra de la Demanda and promoter of the action, with the lead-free ammunition used in the test.


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GREFA (Grupo de Rehabilitación de la Fauna Autóctona y su Hábitat) es una organización no gubernamental sin ánimo de lucro, que nace en 1981 como asociación para el estudio y conservación de la naturaleza. Está formado por personas sensibles a ciertas actividades humanas que provocan el deterioro y la destrucción de parte de nuestro entorno natural.


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