The mystery of the Cinereous Vulture spotted in Latvia

A couple of days ago, a Cinereous vulture visited Latvia, which is a relatively rare sight in the country. So where did this vulture come from? Well, we don't exactly know. 

 

Cinereous Vulture in Latvia

Cinereous vultures are extant and vagrant in Latvia, and from time to time, lucky birdwatchers spot them. More recently, a Cinereous vulture was observed in Latvia, but since there was no marking, ring or GPS transmitter, it was a bit of a mystery where the bird came from. Our colleagues from Riga Zoo who were at the scene, saw the vulture attacking a European osprey in Latvia, and as the largest bird of prey in Europe, the vulture had the upper hand. Riga Zoo is part of the Cinereous Vulture Captive Breeding Network, which is made up of 44 zoos and animal parks ranging from Spain to Kazakhstan and is home to 40 breeding pairs. Furthermore, one of the reintroduced Cinereous vultures in Bulgaria, as part of our Vultures Back to Life Project, was born in Riga Zoo, and was named Riga.

 

Reintroduced Cinereous Vulture Riga

Riga is the third of the Cinereous vultures reintroduced into Bulgaria as part the first stage of the Vultures Back to LIFE conservation project. Born in Latvia's Riga Zoo, Riga arrived later to Bulgaria than the other vultures, and it was decided to wait until the other two birds had fledged before releasing Riga into the wild. After their fledging, Riga was released at the nesting site and remained to be fed and monitored without human. When Riga left the release site, the vulture had many adventures in the Balkans and beyond and setting some impressive records. He was the first Cinereous Vulture to visit Croatia after 70 years of absence and the second to visit Albania in decades!

 

Vultures Back to LIFE

Led by the wildlife conservation charity Green Balkans, with activities also implemented by the Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna, and bringing together partners from Bulgaria, Spain and Germany, Vultures Back to LIFE aims to reintroduce the cinereous or Eurasian black vulture to Bulgaria. The team will transfer and release around 60 birds, some from captive-breeding, but mostly coming from wildlife rehabilitation centers in Extremadura (Spain) into the wild in Bulgaria as well as creating supplementary feeding stations and improving populations of wild herbivores, improving the nesting conditions and creating artificial nest sites and tackling some of the major threats to vultures in the country such as insulating electricity pylons and illegal use of poison in the nature. 

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