Last week we reported on the news that the captive-bred Egyptian Vulture Sara released in Italy in 2015 may be on the verge of completely her first full migration from sub-Saharan Africa to Europe.
We are delighted to report that she successfully made it back across the Mediterranean and is now in Italy after an epic migraton of 6,355km!
The first migration to Europe
Sara was released by Centro Rapaci Minacciati, Endangered Raptors Centre (CERM) in the Pugulia and the Bailicata region back in 2015 along with three other young birds.
Sara along with Tobia were the only two birds to survive the migration to sub-Saharan Africa after being released. After a long journey across the Mediterranean to northern Libya, Sara has spent the last four years in Africa, spending her first 18 months in Niger. However, in her second summer the urge to migrate north was strong and she left Niger and headed to northern Tunisia to spend her summer before returning to her winter grounds in Niger. This was a mini-migration she took every year for the next two years.
This year, her fourth, was however different, Sara left her winter grounds in the Sahel region of Niger (west of Agadez) on 23 March and arrived in north-east Algeria on 4 April, after a 2,429 km migration which lasted 12 days, at a speed of 202 km per day. Sara eventually reached north-east coast of Tunisia on 23 April and has been there until we noticed some changes in her movements.
On 2 May Sara began what would be her first venture back into Europe since she was released back in 2015. She bravely crossed the Mediterranean travelling 5,580 km from Tunisia to Sicily.
This is fantastic news! We here at the Vulture Conservation Foundation would like to congratulate the team at Centro Rapaci Minacciati, Endangered Raptors Centre for their hardwork and dedication. Every bird that makes the migration successfully is a boost to the Italian population of Egyptian Vultures that has is at a critically low level.
Sara continues her northward travels
Once she reached Sicily Sara traveled along the north east coast of the island before departing from the region around Cefalu to make a sea crossing over to the Italian mainland and making it back to the area she was released in 2015.
And it didn't stop there! Sara continued her travels, after reaching her release site she surprised the team and continued heading north and as of yesterday is currently between Molise and Campania.
Since her arrival back in Italy she has travelled around 750km. In the next couple of days we'll get more location data and will share it.
Update - 13/05/19
Sara makes it to the Monti della Laga is a mountain range in the central Apennines
Not content with traveling over 6,000km to get back to her release site in the Italian region of Campania, Sara has continued her northward journey, heading an extra 300km north to the Monti della Laga is a mountain range in the central Apennines of Italy. She arrived in the area on Thursday 9 May and the team at CERM contacted the local authorities in case they needed to intervene as she'd not eaten for a long time. Over the weekend it would seem Sara has settled down and may have stopped her travels, the area is well provisioned with food for this migrant as there are large cattle pastures and several supplementary feeding station supporting the reintroduction of the Griffon Vulture in the central Apennines.
Egyptian Vultures in Italy
Once found all along Italy’s Tyrrhenian coast from the province of Livorno to Calabria, the Egyptian Vultures suffered a 80% decline in its population since the 1970s due to poaching, disturbance of nesting sites, reduction in their food supply and illegal poisoning. With less than an estimated 10-12 breeding pairs in Italy, the Egyptian Vultures is considered critically endangered in the county. The population is concentrated mainly the south of the Italy, in Sicily (5 breeding pairs in 2015) and the south of the Italian peninsula around Basilicata and Calabria (3 pairs in 2015).