In August and September last year a total of 6 captive-bred Egyptian vultures have been released in Basilicata and Calabria, as part of an experiment led by CERM (on behalf of the Italian Ministry of the Environment), in collaboration with the Vulture Conservation Foundation and the Egyptian vulture captive-breeding network (EEP), to test procedures and get crucial data on the feasibility and relevance of captive-breeding and restocking/reintroduction projects with this species.
The experiment produced mixed results – three of the birds died while crossing the Mediterranean, while two of them successfully reached Africa – Tobia and Sara. What have they been doing since then?
Sara was released in Basilicata in August, and made it to Niger, where it has been roaming since – see map.
Tobia was released in Calabria, hopped into Malta, where it was guarded by the police in his overnight stay, then flew off to Libya, and eventually reached the border area between Mali and Niger, where it has been wintering (see map).
Unfortunately 3 birds drowned in the Mediterranea sea - data coming from the Balkans also suggest that about 70% of all tagged nestlings ended up drowning in the med in their first migratory journey.
You can check daily the whereabouts of the birds in the VCF website below
Photos: Guido Ceccolini