Three black vultures with a Spanish origin will be released tomorrow in the Gorges du Verdon, as part of the reintroduction project in that site, led by the League Pour la Protection des Oiseaux LPO - PACA. This project – which includes releases in 3 sites - has already re-established the species in the country, with 30+ breeding pairs raising successfully young in nature, and this is one of the last releases of birds there – the project should finish within a year or two.
The three birds to be released spent many months in the aviaries on site, getting acclimatised to the site and the group of wild vultures that often descends on them. The two females and one male are from Spain – they hatched in the wild there and were then found weakened for one reason or the other and entered rehabilitation centers in Cantabria, Andalusia and Extremadura. Due to the long-standing collaboration between the LPO, the VCF, and the regional governments of Spain, these birds were then transferred by the VCF to France for reintroduction, after their successful rehabilitation.
The three birds have been tagged, with the equipment made available by CEFE-CNRS and LPO Grands Causses. They have also been marked with some decoloured feathers – below you can find their respective colour codes.
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 release 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.