The bearded vulture release season kicked off a few weeks ago in the Baronnies region of the pre-Alps in France where three chicks were released as part of the LIFE GYPCONNECT project (funded by the EU LIFE budget and co-funded by the MAVA Foundation). These three chicks were the first releases of the 13 the VCF and its partners hope to make over the coming weeks.
The next releases are taking place in Andalusia (Spain), in the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural ParK. One chick was released on Monday 14 May in Cazorla. This coming week will see the release of another chick, raised at the Austrian captive-breeding centre, with the public unveiling on Tuesday 22 May at Miradores del Guadalquivir in La Iruela, Jaén (see invitation above). The releases in the region will culminate on Friday 25 May with two more chicks, raised in Green Balkan´s center in Bulgaria and in Guadalentin (Andalusia), being released into the wild at Castril.
All birds released will be tagged with a GPS transmitter, and the VCF in collaboration with local partners will monitor and follow their progress closely.
The bearded vulture reintroduction programme in Andalusia (Sierras de Cazorla, Segura, Castril and Las Villas), led by the Junta de Andalucia, in collaboration with Fondación Gypaetus and the VCF, started back in 1996, with the first birds being released in 2006 following their extinction in the area in the 1980’s. Since 2006 50 birds have been released in the area, with the releases becoming a popular annual fixture in the diary for locals. The reintroduction programme in the areas was boosted in 2015 when a pair began breeding, marking an important milestone for bearded vulture comeback. This year two pairs are successfully raising a chick in the wild, while two other territorial pairs are well established and may begin breeding in the next few years.
The chicks released in Andalusia, and the others the VCF will be releasing this Spring across Europe, are originated in the captive breeding programmes and network coordinated by the VCF under mandate from EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria).