Six young Griffon vultures were released into the wild from the Beli Rescue Centre for Griffon Vultures on the northern Croatian island of Cres following a successful recuperation. The Griffon vulture is endangered in Croatia and the breeding colony of Cres is the country’s only breeding and one of the few remaining in the Balkans. The colony is situated on the coastal cliffs of Cres and fledging for young vultures between June and August can be perilous with several ending up in the sea during their first attempt to leave the nest.
Fortunately for the young vultures who end up in the sea, the local community on Cres island is always vigilant during the fledging and is first to help with the recovery from the sea and transport them to the Rehabilitation Centre. The experienced staff at the centre are supported by colleagues from Zagreb ZOO, Association BIOM/BirdLife Croatia and CSO.
The rescued yearlings, Plavnik, Kvarnerić, Kruna, Nevera, Jadran and Pavlomir, have spent ten months in the Centre and before their release this spring were ringed and marked with GPS transmitters. These transmitters will provide data on their location, altitude, speed and course to colleagues in Croatia, working on Griffon vulture conservation projects, to understand more about the annual movements of their birds, including insight into most important foraging sites, as well as interactions with other populations of Griffon vultures.
As well as helping in Griffon vulture rehabilitation staff at the centre conduct field research and annual monitoring on several nature reserves in Croatia on the islands of Cres, Krk, Prvić and Plavnik to determine the total number of breeding pairs. The last breeding season survey in April 2018 revealed a total of 97 breeding pairs on theese Kvarner islands.
The rehabilitation Centre, set in the picturesque village of Beli also has an exhibition area where visitors can learn more about the biology, ecology, current conservation needs of the Griffon vulture, as well as history of these islands.
We look forward to hearing more about these young Griffon vultures as they travel across the Balkans over the coming years.