Testing a new method for Bulgaria to strengthen the population of the globally threatened Egyptian Vulture


© Volen Arkumarev

In the middle of the week a team of the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds and Green Balkans placed three young Egyptian vultures in a special adaptation aviary in the area of ​​Potochnitsa, Eastern Rhodopes. The birds were granted to the project from the Schonnbrunn Zoo and the Zoo of Prague.

This is a pilot experience in Bulgaria for releasing into the wild of captive-bred Egyptian vultures by the delayed release method (the vultures are one year old). The method has been successfully applied for years in Israel. This approach relies on the assumption that the birds have enough time to gain living experience in finding food and to enter into good fitness before taking on the challenging migration to the South (most of the wild young Egyptian vultures die during their first migration to Africa).

The birds will stay in the aviary until mid-May when they will be released. They will be constantly feed and monitored through a video camera so that the experts can understand how the adaptation process goes. On April 10, another bird will be placed in the aviary, which will arrive from Gibraltar, Spain as well as later on another one is expected to arrive from Jerez. Before the release, each of the vultures will be marked with a satellite transmitter to track their behavior in nature and their adaptation.

Simultaneously, this year, as well as the next few years other release methods will also be tested, e.g. fostering and hacking. The aim is to find the best approach for the purposes of a future restocking program for the Balkan population.

The activity is being carried out under the LIFE project "Egyptian Vulture New LIFE", which brings together institutions and organizations from 14 countries spanning the Balkans, Middle East and Africa. The four young Egyptian Vultures have been donated to the project with the assistance of Anton Vaidl - coordinator of the European Endangered Species Programmes (EEP) of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), and with the assistance of VCF.

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