Two young Griffon Vultures recently wandered in the small city of Berovo in North Macedonia, but couldn't fly away. The vultures needed some help, and thankfully, after being rescued and rehabilitated, they were healthy enough to be released back in nature!
Rescue and rehabilitation
On the 8th of October, a peculiar sight struck the residents of the small city of Berovo, in North Macedonia, when a juvenile Griffon Vulture wandered into their neighbourhood seemingly healthy but unable to fly away. The event mobilized animal welfare activists who immediately took action to catch the bird and save it from neighbourhood dogs. Concerned for the vulture’s wellbeing, they contacted the Macedonian Ecological Society, which is a partner organization to the VCF that has been working on vulture conservation since 2003 and is currently leading one of the projects from the Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project Small Grant Programme. In a swift action, the vulture was transported to the capital Skopje for examination. After concluding that the bird is healthy, though a little underweight, accommodation and rehabilitation was provided in the Skopje Zoo.
Strangely, the same thing happened again when yet another juvenile Griffon Vulture wondered into Berovo just two weeks later and initiated another rescue mission. Soon, the two vultures kept each other company in the Skopje Zoo. After days of careful monitoring, they gained weight, and it was concluded that they are fit to be released back into the wild.
On the 31st of October 2019, the Griffon Vultures were successfully released near the vulture restaurant of Vitacevo, which is operated by the Nature Conservation Association Aquila. Both birds were tagged and equipped with GPS transmitters provided by us here at the VCF under the Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project Small Grants Programme. Representatives from the Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna (FWFF) in Bulgaria aided in equipping the transmitters. Government officials from the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, animal welfare activists and ZOO representatives had the pleasure of witnessing the special moment as the two vultures flew away. A special thanks to the people involved that helped give these Griffon Vultures a second chance at life! We hope the vultures have a bright future ahead of them.
Following their release, both vultures stayed at the release area for 4-5 days and then moved. Sunchica travelled to Greece and Svetislav in Bulgaria at the feeding site of Kresna operated by FWFF.
Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project Small Grant Programme
The Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project Small Grants Programme is the first time we at the Vulture Conservation Foundation have run a grant programme, and with this we aim to reinforce national capacities within relevant governmental authorities and conservation NGOs from six countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, North Macedonia and Serbia) of the Balkan Peninsula. This work will support those organisations to improve the skills and capabilities in the detection and mitigation of poisoning incidents through the implementation of previously developed National Roadmaps and Strategies. More specifically, through these small grants we endeavor to secure the implementation of priority anti-poisoning actions listed in the National Anti-Poisoning Road-maps/Strategies, strengthen the capacities of relevant national governmental institutions in combating the illegal use of poison baits, improve the enforcement of relevant legislation and attract other funding opportunities for implementation of large-scale anti-poisoning projects in the region. Through the support of the MAVA Foundation, we managed to dedicate a budget of €60.000 for these small grants.
Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project
The Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project is a cross-border initiative bringing together wildlife conservation organisations, governmental agencies and other stakeholder such as; hunting associations, farmers and scientists, in six Balkan countries to tackle illegal wildlife poisoning.
Funded by the Mava Foundation we aim to secure real and continued engagement of the relevant national governmental authorities in the Balkan region against illegal wildlife poisoning and increase their capacity to counteract it and working together to take positive steps to protect vultures.
The Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project is a partnership between us here at the Vulture Conservation Foundation and the Albanian Ornithological Society-AOS, Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania-PPNEA, Ornithological Society “Naše ptice”,Association BIOM, Hellenic Ornithological Society-HOS, Macedonian Ecological Society-MES.
The Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project also contributes directly into the implementation of the Vulture Multi-Species Action Plan by carrying out anti-poisoning actions in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, North Macedonia and Serbia, and is building on our work for the last decade in the Balkans thorugh the Balkan Vulture Action Plan.