The efforts to apply the fostering method for Egyptian vultures in the wild continue


After the unsuccessful first attempt at the end of June for placement of a two-weekly Egyptian vulture donated by the Prague Zoo in a wild nest in the Eastern Rhodopes, the BSPB and Green Balkans team did not give up on this experimental action, which is important for the recovery of the Balkan population within the LIFE project “Egyptian Vulture New LIFE” (LIFE16 NAT/BG / 000874). The juvenile was temporarily set up in the captive nest of the Egyptian vultures’ pair at the Green Balkans Wildlife Rescue Center. The pair took care of it for almost two months under the professional care and permanent video surveillance by the Green Balkans team.

The project team assumes that the aggression caused among the young vultures in the first attempt at fostering is due to the early age of intervention and the long-term transportation of the zoo "baby" deprived of the indispensable for this age presence of its parents. Similar experiments  with captive-bred baby vultures fostered by wild Egyptian vulture pairs were conducted successfully in Italy with the age of the chicks being about 60 days. This fact, as well as the arguments that older chicks are less vulnerable to aggressive behavior, and the team can intervene much more adequately, tilted the scales to the decision to make a re-attempt to introduce the young vulture into a wild nest. Thus, at the age of 60 days, already strengthened and almost fully fledged, the young vulture from Prague Zoo was tagged with a satellite transmitter and was placed in the same wild nest.

Fortunately, this time the efforts of the experts from BSPB and Green Balkans were successful. Although after a short fight, this time initiated by the wild chick, the two fledglings began to coexist peacefully in the shared nest, as the wild parents welcomed the new chick and started feeding it. The nest in which this activity is carried out is under constant monitoring and subject of provision with supplementary food.

The next challenges for the fostered bird will be to leave the nest successfully, to adapt to life without the care of the foster parents and the most perilous test - the first migration to the wintering grounds. Thanks to the satellite transmitter we will keep track on its movements and fate. We hope one day to find it again in Bulgaria.

The activity is part of a 5-year experimental programme 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", (LIFE16 NAT/BG/000874), 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 and Aquaria (EAZA), and with the assistance of VCF.

LIFE project Egyptian vulture New LIFE, fostering, EAZA, BSPB, Green Balkans