Following a public vote organized by the Junta de Andalucia, the bearded vulture chick that will soon fledge from its nest in the Sierra de Cazorla – the first breeding in the wild of this species in southern Spain for 32 years, following a reintroduction projects started 9 years ago – has been named.
Esperanza is a female, and is the offspring of Tono, a male released in the first year of the reintroduction project in 2006, and Blimunda a female released in 2010. Recently Esperanza was ringed and tagged with a GPS tag, that will enable researchers to follow its movements (see here) – we all hope that Esperanza will have a long and fruitful life!
Other names that recevid votes were “Huesitos” (Bones), “Libertad” (Liberty) and “Fenix”.
The hatching of this bird - only nine years after the first bearded vultures were released back into Andalucía, is a huge success in an extraordinary project, and a just reward to the many people that worked so hard to bring back this species to southern Spain, and particularly to the Junta de Andalucía, that since day 1 has invested politically and financially in this project.
The bearded vulture was widespread in the mountains of southern Spain until the 40s, but intense human persecution and widespread poisoning cause it to disappear from southern Iberia. The last confirmed breeding took place in Cazorla in 1983, and in 1986 the last adult also disappeared. Releases in Andalusia started in 2006, after the Junta, and Fundacion Gypaetus, established locally to manage the project, initiated an ambitious conservation programme, mainly focussed on minimizing the endemic tradition of poisoning the sierras to control predators.
So far a total of 39 birds have been released there, including 6 this year. At least 22 of these are still alive.
(Photo Junta de Andalucia/Fundación Gypaetus)