We’ve been working with British author Judy Brulo over the last year to help raise awareness of the conservation status of Griffon vultures in Europe which feature in her latest book for children, The Revenge of the Servants of the Gods, beautifully illustrated by Emily Chan Moore and has a powerful conservation message behind it.
The Revenge of the Servants of the Gods
Judy Brulo’s book takes its title from Greek Mythology where vultures were known as 'The Servants of the Gods', who carried the souls of the dead to the ends of the universe.
Inspired by her time living in Cyprus not far from the cliffs of Episkopi, which was once home to a significant colony of Griffon vultures, and seeing birds swirling on the thermals, Judy developed a story that featured vultures. Set on the imaginary island of Ýpas Nisí (Vulture Island) the story concerns a 10-year-old boy who befriends a Griffon vulture and adventure ensues.
Excerpt from Part Two Chapter Three - Where’s Griff?
'Griff’s in trouble. I can feel it.'
Luke rubbed the sleep from his eyes and forced himself to focus his thoughts. Then, he heard it.
'Luke, Luke, my friend! Can you hear me, Luke?’
‘Griff! Yes, I’m here. Where have you been? What’s wrong? What’s happening?’
'Luke, the flock is very sick. We have been poisoned. I fear some of us might die if we don’t get help soon.’
The doctor grabbed his bag. But a sudden look of fear flashed across his face. ‘Vultures aren’t used to humans. They won’t attack us, will they, Luke?’
‘No. It’s OK. I know Griff. I know them. Looks like they’re too ill to care. Please, we have to hurry!’
‘Luke, my friend. At last you are here. Thank you. You see how sick we are.’
‘Don’t worry, Griff. Andréas’ dad will help you.’
The doctor lost no time.
‘Boys! Hold the birds still, while I inject them. I hope I’ve got it right,’ said Andréas’ dad. ‘It’s a fast-acting antidote. It shouldn’t take too long before we see if it’s working. The vultures must have picked up some poisoned meat. Most probably something the farmers have put down to kill the foxes. Foxes often kill their chickens, you see.’
The rescue party waited anxiously for the antidote to take effect.
Then, it happened.
‘Hey, boys! Wake up! The birds are beginning to move. They’re getting up. Look! I think… Yes… they’re all OK. We haven’t lost a single one of them!
Griffon vultures on Cyprus
The population of the Griffon Vulture on Cyprus is has been declining rapidly over the past 20 years. During the 1960s, the population consisted of at least 100 individuals, but a census which took place in March 2011 and which covered 14 locations in the south-west of the island, showed that the total Vulture population in Cyprus that currently lived in the wild was only between 6-8 birds.
The Revenge of the Servants of the Gods is published on North Staffordshire Press featuring a Griffon vulture as one of the main characters in an amazing adventure story for 8-12 year olds. The Revenge of the Servants of the Gods is available to buy from Judy's Etsy store.