Every bird counts, specially in the case of the bearded vulture, a rare species in the Alps and in Europe. In fact, the species became extinct in the Alps in the beginning of the 20th century, but a reintroduction project (coordinated by the VCF and implemented by several partners across 4 alpine countries) started in 1986 and is still ongoing. The first breeding in the wild occurred in France in 1997, and the species has been increasing since then - last year there were at least 49 territorial pairs, which fledged 31 fledglings. In total there should be between 250 and 300 bearded vultures in the Alps – so every bird counts!
It is then sad to report a mortality – and especially sad when that relates to a well-known bird. This is the case of Palanfré, a famous bird among the alpine bearded vultures - because this female bearded vulture did not colour herself and was almost pure white - hence she was also called "Neve" by our Italian partners.
Unfortunately, Palanfré was found dead on the 16th March 2018 in the municipality of Novalesa in Piemonte (see newspaper report below in Italian). The bird is now transferred to the University of Turin where a detailed necropsy is being performed, including analysis for lead, vet drugs, and poison. Palanfré was found below a medium voltage line and it is suspected that it may have died due to collision, subject to further confirmation.
Palanfré hatched 2004 in the bearded vulture specialized captive breeding center EGS in Haringsee, close to Vienna, Austria. Later that year she was released in the National Park Alpi Marittime in Italy as part of the reintroduction project. Because Palanfré was not colored, it was very easy to recognize her, and we received a lot of observations from her. Unfortunately, she never occupied a territory or found a mate to breed. She is now dead.
The VCF and our partners are working to identify dangerous cables – notably through the LIFE GYPHELP project – and then mitigate collision risk through the deployment of bird markers.
The VCF would like to than the Alpi Cozie protected area and the University of Torino for their help.