The regional government of Andalusia handed over today 3 Eurasian black vultures (Aegypius monachus) to the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF), in a ceremony held in Sevilla and hosted by José Fiscal, the Regional Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning, and Rafael Arenas (manager of protected areas in Andalusia).
The birds – all female – include 2 birds that were fully rehabilitated in the wildlife rehabilitation centers in Córdoba and in Puerto de Santa María (Cádiz), and that will be used in the reintroduction Project in France, and one unrecoverable (permanently wounded) bird, collected in the nest in a breeding colony in the Parque Natural de la Sierra de Andújar, and that will be sent to the captive-breeding programm/EEP (European Endangered species Programme), co–coordinated by EAZA and Plackandael Zoo (Antwerp).
Andalusia is one of the most important strongholds for the Black Vulture, with a population last year of 360 breeding pairs – 19 pairs more than in 2014. In 2002, when the Junta started its vulture conservation programme, there were only 210 pairs in the region.
Every year many birds are found in bad physical condition, or injured. They enter the impressive network of rehabilitation centers managed by the Junta de Andalusia. While some of them are quickly rehabilitated and then released, others have serious injuries that prevent them from surviving in the wild, broken wings, amputated feet, etc.
This is not the first time that the Junta de Andalucia has handed birds to the VCF – in fact, the Junta collaboration has been instrumental in the success of the black vulture reintroduction projects in the Catalan Pyrenees (managed by GREFA), and in France – led by the League Pour la Protection des Oiseaux. Both projects have now already re-established the species in those regions, with several breeding pairs raising successfully young in nature.
The black vulture population has been increasing in Spain, and totals now more than 2,000 pairs, mostly in Extremadura and Andalusia. Black vultures went extinct in France more than 100 years ago, but a reintroduction project started in the early 90s in the Grands Causses. There 53 individuals were released between 1992 and 2004, both from wild origin (rehabilitation centers in Spain) and also from captive breeding. In 2004 black vultures started to be released in two other release sites, in the Southern Alps – in Baronnies and in the Gorges du Verdon. There are now more than 35 breeding pairs of black vultures at the three release sites in France, and while releases will continue for 2-3 more years, the species has now been firmly re-established - a great wildlife comeback only made possible by a joint, solid cross border collaboration between the French and the Spanish ministries, the Juntas de Extremadura and Andalusia and NGOs like the VCF, Association Vautours en Baronnies, the Black Vulture Conservation foundation and LPO.
The VCF would like to thank the Junta de Andalusia for all their efforts for the conservation of the black vulture and their unwavering support for the reintroduction projects.