The migration of the captive-bred Egyptian vultures


© Emil Iordanov

Part of the young Egyptian vultures released this year in Bulgaria by different techniques of releasing – the hacking method, fostering and delayed release, headed for the first time along the dangerous migratory route to the south. This spring, the four Egyptian vultures from the zoos in Prague and Jerez - Polya, Boyana, Akaga and Panteley have been released through the delayed release method. One young form the Prague zoo was released through fostering in a wild nest – named Blanca, while two others were released through the hacking method (Anna and Vanya).

Since August, the “Egyptian Vulture New LIFE” team has been following their movements to the south. Part of the team traveled to Sarimasi bottleneck in Turkey to count the migration of the Egyptian vultures




The first vulture that started his migration was Akaga. On August 25, the vulture left the release site in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains and reached Istanbul. She then moved south to the Dardanelles, where she crossed into Asia, and continued her journey to southern Turkey. In the Adrasan Peninsula, rather than crossing to nearby Cyprus – a route that often leads to drownings, Akaga flew around the heavily built-up coast across Antalya Bay and rose up near the city of Ceyhan, where the project team carried out the census. Incredibly, after a 1,200km journey the “Egyptian Vulture New LIFE” team caught up with Akaga as her roosting site was near Ceyhan, where observation team were staying. After that Akaga traveled 700 km south in less than three days at an amazing 70 km/h, and and reached Saudi Arabia. 


The captive-bred chick Blanca – fostered in a wild nest, often made tours around the release site, visited feeding stations and met some of the other released birds. In the beginning of September she also started her journey south, crossed Greece and the Bosphorus over Istanbul, then heading south to the Mediterranean Sea. At present, Blanca is located in the Adana province, northeast of the Adana city. 



Unlike Akaga and Blanca, Anna - , the bird released via the hacking method, choose more dangerous route to begin her migration. On Sept. 7, she crossed the Sea of ​​Marmara through the islands of Marmara and reached the Adrasan peninsula. the Sea of Marmara through the Marmara islands, and when she arrived to the Adrasan peninsula Anna flew off twice to sea, only to return again to shore  - after departing from Adrasan she made it 15km over the sea flying south but was dangerously losing height so returned to land.  Anna is currently in Adana province.

The information on adaptation and survival during the migration of all these young birds will be crucial to assessing the most successful methods of enhancing the population of the Egyptian vulture in the Balkans.

Meanwhile, the "Egyptian Vulture New LIFE" team continues to monitor the migration of the species, with over 490 Egyptian Vultures numbered so far.

Up-to-date information on the movements of all Egyptian Vultures with satellite transmitters can be found here.


The release methods are 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", which brings together institutions and organizations from 14 countries spanning the Balkans, Middle East and Africa. The vulture have been donated to the project by Prague Zoo and the zoo in Jerez 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, hacking, EAZA, BSPB, Green Balkans, delayed release