Young Griffon vultures Julio and Lobo are now flying free again after being released back into the wild after rehabilitating at the Wildlife Recovery Centre in Bonassai since being rescued in July as part of the LIFE Under Griffon Wings project.
Rescuing young Griffon vultures
Julio and Lobo were both found in Sardinia’s Bosa region on the west of the island after being in states of distress since fledging. Lobo was found in a weakened state whilst Julio was rescued from the sea by a tourist boat. The two wildborn birds were named by the staff at the Wildlife Recovery Centre in honor of Julio Redondo Montalban skilled Spanish dog handler who helped establish Sardinia’s anti-poison dog unit who passed away in July this year.
The two birds were fitted with GPS transmitters to help track and monitor their movements. Each device weighs between 30g and 70g and equipped with a small solar panel will send the GPS position of the birds over the mobile communications network and can provide several thousands fixes per day. The two tags were funded with generous support from the MAVA Foundation.funded by the Mava Foundation.
Griffon vultures in Sardinia
Distributed over the whole island up to the late 1940s with an estimated population of 800 – 1200 individuals, the population of Griffon vultures in Sardinia dropped rapidly after the Second World War until the outlawing of poisoned baits in 1977. Now the species is restricted to the north-western part of the island and during a 2013 survey consisted of just 30 territorial pairs and 130 individuals.
Monitoring of the local breeding population in 2018 suggests there are approximately 50 pairs of griffons breeding, the population is slowly increasing and responding well to work of the LIFE Under Griffon Wings team.
LIFE Under Griffon Wings
Led by Sassari University, the LIFE Under Griffon Wings project aims to improve the conservation status of Griffon vultures is improving food availability by establishing a network of farm feeding stations, managed by the livestock breeders themselves, establishingan anti-poison dog unit and developing a communication actions to raise awareness on the threat caused by the illegal use of poisoned baits and carrying out an extensive restocking programme to enhance the small population by translocating between 45 and 60 birds from wildlife rehabilitation centers in Spain to Sardinia.