This year the VCF and its partners are hoping to release 18 young bearded vultures into the wild in Europe –a new record, and a significant boost to the populations of this species in our continent. Due to the several reintroduction-restocking projects, bearded vultures are recovering in the continent: bearded vultures are now increasing rapidly in the Alps, and are breeding again in Andalusia!
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 25 young was produced, of which 18 will be released in the on-going reintroduction projects (Alps, Grands Causses-Massif Central and Andalusia), and in one restocking project (Corsica).
Yesterday 5 birds were released – one in Andalusia, originated in the bearded vulture captive breeding center in Austria, two in Corsica (one born in captivity in the Andalusian specialized captive breeding centre in Guadalentin, the other one from Ostrava Zoo), and two in Vercors (both from the Guadalentin specialized captive breeding center in Andalusia), as part of LIFE GYPCONNECT.
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.