Through our work we aim for the four species of European vultures to have self-sustaining and healthy populations, with a good conservation status and occupying most of its former range. These populations will be supported by good quality habitats and valued by people across Europe.
Who are we?
The Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF) is an international non-governmental organisation made up of a team of conservationists and scientists who are dedicated to protecting and supporting the recovery of the four species of European vultures, the bearded, griffon, cinereous and Egyptian vultures. Here are just some of the staff working at the VCF:
Reintroducing the bearded vulture to the Alps
The last bearded vulture in the Alps was shot in 1913 and in the late 1970s, led by the Frankfurt Zoological Society and funded by WWF, scientists developed a plan to release captive-bred chicks into the wild and reintroduce the species to the region. The first reintroduction took place in 1986 in the Austrian Hohe Tauern National Park. In the years that followed, the reintroduction project was extended gradually over the whole of the Alps. In 1997, some 80 years after the disappearance of the species, and 11 years after the first reintroduction, a wild-hatched chick flew for the first time in Haute-Savoie. Now there are 50+ breeding pairs, and the population is growing exponentially. It is one of the most successful wildlife reintroduction programmes in the world.
In 1992 the Foundation for the Conservation of Bearded Vultures was founded by the president of Frankfurt Zoological Society, Richard Faust, uniting a network of vulture experts and zoos with the aim to establish a programme for breeding and reintroduction of Bearded vultures in the Alpine region (Austria, France, Italy, Switzerland).
Today the Vulture Conservation Foundation is the successor of the Foundation for the Conservation of Bearded Vultures.
The Vulture Conservation Foundation carries on the work of the the Foundation for the Conservation of Bearded Vultures by initiating, facilitating and supporting conservation actions for the bearded vulture as well as the cinereous, Egyptian and griffon vultures in Europe. We are involved in several Europe-wide large scale conservation projects utilising our expertise and experience.
Captive breeding and reintroducing vultures
After four decades of experience of breeding and reintroducing vultures back into the wild we continue to release bearded vultures in the Alps and work with a variety of other bearded vulture reintroduction programmes in Spain (in Andalucia and most recently Valencia ) as well as in the French Grands Causses and in Corsica. We have also applied our knowledge of coordinating the Bearded Vulture Captive Breeding Network EEP to support the Captive Breeding Network EEP of cinereous and Egyptian vultures and releasing bird in projects like the historic reintroduction of cinereous vultures in Bulgaria and testing different techniques for the release of captive-bred Egyptian vultures.
Using different techniques such as colour-ringing, wing feather marking and fitting the birds with small lightweight GPS transmitters we work to closely monitor and track the vultures we release into the wild as well as wild birds tagged with GPS transmitters or ringed.
This work helps us and our conservation partners to understand the movements of vultures and identify potential threats and carry out actions to prevent unnecessary deaths from these risks.
Tackling threats to vultures
We are involved in eradicating and minimising the causes of vulture deaths such as collisions or electrocutions due to power lines, lack of food availability and illegal wildlife poisoning.
The biggest threat to vultures worldwide is illegal wildlife poisoning. Despite being illegal across Europe the use of poison to control unwanted mammal carnivores and feral dogs is still widespread in soem countries. We work to tackle this threat through our many LIFE funded conservation projects and with our Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project funded by the MAVA Foundation. We also lead on campaigns to protect vultures influencing policy and decision makers such as our recent campaign to change the legislation on the use of the veterinary diclofenac that causes kidney failure in vultures.