The Barcelona Zoo reintroduces three Griffin vultures
Three Griffin vultures born at the Barcelona Zoo are sent to Bulgaria for their reintroduction
The Barcelona Zoo has extensive experience in breeding birds in captivity and has always devoted time and energy to preserving endangered species, particularly the conservation of necrophagous birds
In line with their mission and interest in reintroducing the Griffin vulture (Gyps fulvus) and following the recommendations of the coordinator of the European Breeding Programme for this species, some time ago the Zoo contacted the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF). The fruit of this work was the transfer last Thursday of three males to Bulgaria, where a reintroduction project was started in 2009, within the European Union’s Life Programme. During this period, over 200 birds have been released, 10% of which come from European zoos. The project has been a success, and some of the birds released have even reproduced in a region in which this species has been extinct for some 100 years.
The three birds sent to Bulgaria were born at the Barcelona Zoo in 2014 and 2015. The current colony of Griffin vultures at the Barcelona Zoo is made up of 12 individuals: eight males, three females and a chick born in 2017. Three of them are from a rescue centre and are part of today's breeding group.
When they arrived at their destination, safe and sound, the three individuals were marked on the wings so they can be identified, either in charnels or in the countryside. The birds will remain at the rescue centre Green Balkans in Bulgaria for a while to acclimatise to their new home and accept it as their territory. Their release will be done by following the soft release method, which consists of opening the aviary doors where they are living so that they can leave whenever they feel ready. Normally, releases are done between the months of April and October.
Characteristics and status of species:
The Griffin vulture (Gyps fulvus) is a scavenger bird that occupies mountainous regions in southern Europe and North Africa to central Asia. They form large breeding colonies on cliffs. At the beginning of the year, between the end of January and beginning of March, they lay a single white egg that is incubated by both parents for 50-58 days. Each pair raises only a single chick each season, which will remain in the nest for 110-130 days. Farming and livestock transformations in the countryside, the use of poisons and hunting all decreased their populations in the mid-20th century. It merits mention that over 80% of the European population currently lives on the Iberian Peninsula, where their populations have been recovering in recent years. Conversely, in other places in Europe, this species’ populations have suffered a significant drop, the case on the Balkan Peninsula: Bulgaria, Slovenia and Greece.
The European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) has a European Studbook Programme (ESB) for this species, coordinated by the Jerez de la Frontera Zoo.
The Barcelona Zoo has been working for a long time now to protect vultures: In the beginning of the 70s, it developed the first initiative to create artificial birdfeeders for vultures, as they were quite endangered in our lands at that time. And a few years later, in 1991, five Griffin vultures (Gyps fulvus) were sent to the Groupe de Recherche et d’Information Sur les Vertebrés in Montpellier, for a reintroduction project at Les Cevenes National Park.
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