Even for the most passionate travellers, the time comes to settle and establish a place to call “home”. This time came for Panteley as well, who turned six years old this spring. In the last two months, Panteley occupied a breeding territory in the heart of the Eastern Rhodopes, Bulgaria, just 5 km away from the release site. With passion and courage, he managed to “steal” some land and airspace from two neighbouring pairs. He is now actively displaying and showing territorial behaviour but yet has not attracted a female.

Panteley’s story started in 2018 when he arrived at Jerez Zoo in Spain to become part of the restocking program for the species implemented by BSPB and Wildlife Rеhabilitation and Breeding Center – Green Balkans in partnership with other NGOs. After two months of adaptation in the Wildlife Rеhabilitation and Breeding Center – Green Balkans and then in the adaptation aviary in the Eastern Rhodopes, Panteley was among the first Egyptian Vultures released through the delayed release method alongside Boyana, Polya and Akaga. Unfortunately, today, Panteley is the only survivor of the first graduates of the so-called “Egyptian Vulture Academy”.

After the release, Panteley travelled thousands of kilometres and visited 16 countries in the Balkans, the Middle East and Africa but was always returning back to the release site in Bulgaria. Along the way, he met many good people who helped him when he was in need or simply had the chance to observe him in the wild. We are sure that all of them will be happy to know that Panteley is now adult and territorial.

Six years after the start of the Egyptian Vulture Restocking Program in Bulgaria, we have 4 different released individuals that formed pairs or occupied breeding territories in the wild. The first one to achieve that was Boyana, followed by Izi and Zara and now by Panteley. This is a tremendous success for the restocking programme and the efforts to recover the Egyptian Vulture population in the Balkans.

All released birds are donated to the „Еgyptian Vulture New LIFE“ project with the assistance of Antonin Vaidl from Prague Zoo – coordinator of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA). We express our gratitude to all people and organizations involved in the reinforcement of the Egyptian Vultures in the Balkans!