This weekend the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF) is transporting 7 black vultures (Aegypius monachus) from Spain to France. The vultures are coming from Spanish recovery centers in Extremadura and Andalucia, and will be released back in the wild for the reintroduction projects in Verdon and Baronnies – France.
The VCF team is transporting the vultures by land, in a 24h trip that will cover 1600km. Starting from Sevilla, where two birds were collected, then continuing to Villafranca de los Barros (AMUS), where the other five birds were housed. This is also a great international collaborative action involving 4 NGOs and two regional governments, all united for vulture conservation.
The black vultures are of wild origin, but were picked up wounded or weak in Spain, and entered rehabilitation centers in Extremadura and Andalucia. Through VCF facilitation, they were donated to the French reintroduction projects by the Spanish autonomous governments of Extremadura and Andalusia. These two regions currently hold the biggest black vulture population in Europe, about a half of the Spanish population (1300 breeding pairs).
The reintroduction project in France was initiated in 1988, in the Grand Causses region, where 53 individuals were released between 1992 and 2004. In 2004, the associations ‘Vautours en Baronnies’ and ‘Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux’ (LPO-PACA) started other reintroduction programmes in France, in the mountain areas of the Baronnies and Verdon, respectively, where another 70 individuals have been released so far.
The reintroduction projects are carried out within the framework of the National Action Plan for the recovery of the black vulture population in France (2011-2016), prepared by LPO and supported by the French ministry of Environment.
These projects have been extremely successful and resulted in the establishment of breeding populations in all three sites, currently totaling 35 breeding pairs. The reintroduction project will finish in the next 2 years, as the populations seem to be self-sustainable and doing well.
As soon as they arrive in France the black vultures will be transferred to the acclimatization aviaries in Baronnies and Verdon, where they will get used to their new environment, and their conspecifics flying around, before final release in several months.