An unprecedented event occurred last year — two Egyptian Vultures settled in Sardinia and hatched a chick for the first time on the island! The famous pair has once again given signs that this incident will happen again during spring this year. Now that a few months passed, conservationists confirmed that a chick hatched in Sardinia again!
Egyptian Vultures in Sardinia
Once a rare visitor to Sardinia, with no breeding records, two Egyptian Vultures settled at the Porto Conte in Sardinia during spring of 2019. What happened next was even more remarkable! The pair attempted to breed on the island and were successful! In autumn of the same year, their Egyptian Vulture chick fledged, which was a new record. Given that there are no historical breeding records of Egyptian Vultures in Sardinia and that there are only 10-13 pairs of these species known around Italy in Sicily, Calabria and Basilicata, this outcome represented a glimmer of hope for this threatened species! This year, there were signs that this will be repeated.
Egyptian Vulture hatched again in Sardinia 2020
In the winter of 2020, the Egyptian Vulture pair was seen feeding in the supplementary feeding stations established within LIFE Under Griffon Wings on several occasions, suggesting that the adult birds have almost certainly stayed all winter in Sardinia. Due to the COVID-19 restriction, it was impossible to monitor the birds in spring. By late May, the pair was carrying nesting material to the nest, giving signs that they bred again on the island. A couple of months later, on 15 July, a 'Sardinian' Egyptian Vulture fledged once again for the second consecutive year in a row! This timing suggests that it hatched between late April or early May.
What attracted Egyptian Vultures to Sardinia?
The Egyptian Vulture settlement in Sardinia show that the measures adopted for the protection of vultures by the LIFE Under Griffon Wings team have favoured positive effects on the whole community of scavenging birds. In particular, the feeding stations established, and the cooperation among various stakeholders effectively mitigated food shortages and increased the attractiveness of Sardinia for vultures. The project also reduced the human presence and disturbance, improving the park conditions for the vultures. A way they mitigated disturbance was by creating observation stations at Porto Conte to allow park visitors to observe the Griffon Vultures without producing a negative impact as well as informed an ethical photography code of contact to respect nesting sites. These actions resulted in the presence of the two Egyptian Vultures as well as the three territorial Griffon Vulture pairs where two of those nesting pairs had not been recorded in several years.
LIFE Under Griffon Wings
Led by Sassari University, the LIFE Under Griffon Wings project aims to improve the conservation status of Griffon Vultures. Their conservation efforts include improving food availability and establishing a network of farm feeding stations that are managed by the livestock breeders themselves. Furthermore, forming an anti-poison dog unit and developing communication actions to raise awareness on the threat caused by the illegal use of poisoned baits as well as carrying out an extensive restocking programme to enhance the small population by translocating around 60 birds from wildlife rehabilitation centres in Spain to Sardinia.
The Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF) supports this important conservation project which was developed by the University of Sassari in partnership with the Municipality of Bosa, the Forestry Agency and the Corpo Forestale di Vigilanza Ambientale. The project is implemented in collaboration with the regional Departments of Environmental Protection and Health, the Regional Natural Park of Porto Conte, the Instituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale of Sardinia.
The VCF secures and transports the Griffon Vultures from Spain, and up until now, provided a total of 65 birds, fulfilling the requirements of the project.
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