Two wild families of Egyptian vultures take care of two young captive-bred hatchlings - the fostering method


© Emil Yordanov, BSPB

On August 5th, a BSPB and Green Balkans team placed two young Egyptian vultures, hatched in the Prague Zoo and the Wildlife Rehabilitation and Breeding Centre - Green Balkans, part of the network of the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) in two wild nests of the species in the Eastern Rhodopes. The bird from the Center is a generation of a pair donated by the Prague Zoo. This is an experimental method for strengthening the Balkan population of the Egyptian vultures and is being held for the third consecutive year within the LIFE project "Egyptian Vulture New LIFE".

This method of releasing captive-bred birds by rearing them by wild foster parents is called “fostering”. This year, for the first time, two young birds are placed in two wild nests. So far, only one bird has been placed in 2018 and in 2019. Both birds from the previous two years have successfully left the nests and reached the wintering grounds in Africa.

The two nests with wild vulture families this year have been carefully selected according to their accessibility, parents' experience, the number and age of the juveniles in the selected nests. Before placing the birds in the nests with the help of alpine equipment, the team tagged the vultures with GPS/GSM transmitters to monitor their movements after leaving the nest and during the first migration.

The two pairs are currently subject to constant monitoring and additional feeding by the project team.

Тhe activity is part of a 5-year experimental program for active management of the critically endangered Egyptian Vulture population in the Balkans in order to increase the breeding success and survival of the young individuals. It is carried out by a team of BSPB and Green Balkans within the framework of the LIFE project "Egyptian Vulture New LIFE", which brings together institutions and organizations from 14 countries spanning the Balkans, Middle East, and Africa. The baby vulture has been donated to the project by Prague Zoo with the assistance of Anton Vaidl - coordinator of the European Endangered Species Programmes (EEP) of the European Association of Zoos.