Yesterday the regional government of Andalusia handed over 7 black vultures (Aegypius monachus) to the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF), in a ceremony held in Córdoba and hosted by Rafi Crespín, the Córdoba representative of the regional government, by Francisco de Paula Algar, the representative of the Regional Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning, and by Rafael Arenas (manager of protected areas in Andalusia).
The birds – 2 males, 4 females and one yet to determine – have been found weakened or injured across Andalucia, and given to the impressive network of rehabilitation centers managed by the Junta de Andalusia, and will now be released in the reintroduction project in France.
Andalusia is one of the most important strongholds for the black vulture, with a population of 360+ breeding pairs. In 2002, when the Junta started its vulture conservation programme, there were only 210 pairs in the region. Crucial to this success has been the implementation by the Junta of an anti-.poisoning programme, and also other conservation actions targeting this species.
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 project in France – led by the League Pour la Protection des Oiseaux and Vautours en Baronnies. This project has already re-established the species in the country, with 30+ 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 30 breeding pairs of black vultures at the three release sites in France, and 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. This batch of birds is one of the last going to France – the reintroduction project there will soon come to an end, following the successes there – the VCF will then start reintroducing the species in Bulgaria, as part of the Vultures Return Back to LIFE project.
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 with this species.
Photos: Junta de Andalucia