This year the VCF and its partners will release 17 young bearded vultures into the wild in Europe – a new absolute record, and a boost to the populations of this species in our continent, that have been benefiting from the work of the VCF – the species is now fully restored in the Alps, and started to breed again in Andalusia last year after an absence of 30+ years.
The VCF coordinates the bearded vulture captive breeding network, under a mandate from EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria), and this year´s breeding season was again very good – a total of xxx young were produced, of which 17 will be released in the on-going reintroduction projects (Alps, Grands Causses-Massif Central and Andalusia), and in one new restocking project (Corsica).
The release season will start already this week – on the 3rd May two birds will be released in Corsica to boost the local, small and extremely endangered, island population, the first time this is done. Then on the 6th of May Andalusia will release three birds. There will be two further releases in Andalusia , the second one in the end of May (2 birds) and the third one in June (1 or 2 birds).
In the Alps birds will be released in Switzerland (End of May, 2 birds) and Austria (24th June, 2 birds), while the first ever release in the French pre-alps (Baronies will also take place on the 5th June (2 birds). This is part of the LIFE GYPCONNECT project aiming to link the growing population in the Alps to the one being reintroduced in the Grands Causses – where two birds will be released on the 24th May – and eventually to the one in the Pyrenees.
All birds will be tagged and monitored closely by the VCF and it local partners. To create a healthy wild population, it is necessary to release birds from different blood lines to avoid consanguinity. Consequently nestlings are transferred through Europe, traveling thousands of kilometres.
The ultimate aim of all these projects is to create a bearded vulture European meta-population, with gene flow between the existing autochthonous populations in Europe (in the Pyrenees, Corsica, and Crete) with reintroduced populations and eventually with existing populations in North Africa and in Asia.
Please watch this space for news about these releases.