Back in October we were overwhelmed by the public support for our #BeardedVulturesOnTheMove fundraising campaign. Because of the generosity of our 118 backers we reached our target of €7,500 to move 19 bearded vultures across our captive-breeding network. We started the movements a few weeks ago and now more birds are on the move, between Switzerland, Austria, Latvia and Spain.
Heading to Spain
As we neared our fundraising target, we were able to begin some of the first movements of five bearded vultures. Adult birds female BG 381 and male TBG 327 traveled from Riga Zoo in Latvia to the aviaries of ASTERS (Conservatoire d'Espaces Naturels de Haute Savoie) in France, where they met young birds male BG 1006 & female BG 911, as well as another young bird rescued from the wild, named GypHelp. Together, these five birds were transferred to two breeding centres in Spain at the end of the campaign in mid October, by the VCF Bearded Vulture Captive Breeding Assistant David Izquierdo, who collected the birds.
After reaching Vallcalent Breeding Centre in Catalonia, northern Spain, BG 381 and BG 327 were introduced to their new enclosures and have been settling in. We now hope they will make new pairings and begin breeding. BG 1006, BG 911 and GypHelp continued their journey south, after spending a few days at Vallcalent Breeding Centre. Traveling by van, these three young birds arrived at Guadalentín Breeding Centre in Andalusia safely and are acclimatizing to their new homes.
Swapping homes to find love
Adult male BG 080, who is the grand old age of 33 and living at the Richard Faust Zentrum Breeding Centre in Austria is still not too old to give up on love and in order to help him we are swapping him with 24 year old male BG 212 from Switzerland’s La Garenne Zoo.
With generous support from Vienna Zoo, lending us a van and staff, BG 080 began his journey to his new home in Switzerland. Whilst there, the team exchanged birds and left with BG 212 to head to his new home in Austria. By swapping these birds we hope they will pair up and begin breeding.
Our mission is to restore the bearded vulture to much of its former range across Europe and we have been working across five different regions on projects that are reintroducing the bearded vulture in Andalusia and Valencia, Spain, across the Alps, and in the Massif Central/Grands Causses and Corsica, France. In 2018 we released 13 captive-bred birds into the wild, adding up to 301 birds since 1986.
All of our reintroduction projects rely on our Bearded Vulture European Endangered Species Programme - a captive breeding network of 36 zoos, 5 specialized breeding centers and 2 private collections.
To continue our reintroduction work we need to make sure the 174 birds we look after have the best conditions for breeding, as we reintroduce the species to more areas and release more birds. This work involves moving birds across the network and in 2018 we needed to move 19 bearded vultures to find them new homes, safe from the risk of disease, and new mates. Our funding for this network comes from zoos in the network and donations made by visitors, however, to fund this additional movement of birds we opened our first ever public fundraising campaign and thanks to the generous support of the public raised the €7,500 needed to transport the birds.
Photos: Zoo Vienna, Centre d'élevage de Haute-Savoie, Centro de Cría de Guadalentín, VCF