A second or third year black vulture was seen yesterday (Friday 30.10.15) at a vulture supplementary feeding station in Vitachevo, together with 28 griffon vultures.
Black vultures went extinct in the Balkans throughout the 20thcentury, except for an isolated breeding population that remained in Dadia Forest in NE Greece, and that totals about 30 pairs.
Black vulture populations in Spain – their European stronghold - have been increasing (now totals more than 2000 pairs). The reintroduced population in France is also well established and includes now more than 35 pairs, so the number of black vultures seen in Central Europe, notably around the Alps, has been increasing in recent years.
Vitacheco is about 350km from Dadia, as the crow flies. This bird could have originated there, but a western European origin cannot also be dismissed.
The VCF and a number of partners, including the Bulgarian NGO Green Balkans, are now starting a project to reintroduce black vultures to the Central Balkan mountains in Bulgaria (LIFE+ Vultures Return Back to LIFE). The project is now starting, but first releases of black vultures will only happen in 2018.
This observation is good news, and creates a lot of expectations that in the not so distant future this species could eventually be re-established around the Balkans. With adequate vulture conservation measures taking now place in several countries in the region, and with a coordinated effort to control poisoning – vultures main threat i-, we hope that the silhouette of black vultures becomes soon a more familiar sight in the Balkan skyline.
Photos: Emanuel Lisichanets - Aquila