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Good news from the Alps – early start of the breeding season and already two new pairs of bearded vultures!

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While the captive bearded vultures are keeping us really busy, their wild cousins are also breeding across European mountains. The first egg in the wild was registered one month later than the first clutch in captivity (Haringsee, 20.11.2017) – our Italian colleagues reported that the breeding pair in Planeil laid an egg just before New Year (30.12.2017). So far 18 clutches have already been reported to the VCF, who compiles the data for the whole Alpine chain, as part of the International Bearded vulture Monitoring network (IBM), which is partly funded by the MAVA foundation.

Bearded vultures became extinct in the Alps in the beginning of the 20th century, but a reintroduction project (coordinated by the VCF and implemented by several partners across 4 alpine countries) started in 1986 and is still ongoing. The first breeding in the wild occurred in France in 1997. The species has been increasing since then, and last year there were at least 47 territorial pairs, which fledged 31 fledglings.

Some bad news – the pair in Andagne in France (North-West Alps) already failed – were tempered by the fantastic observations of at least two new breeding pairs in peripheral territories: Our partners Envergures Alpines reported a new occupied territory (Malaval) in the National Park Écrins – this would be the westernmost pair in the Alps, while there is also a new breeding pair in Switzerland.

The VCF and its partners will still be releasing birds in the Alps, with a dual objective of diversifying the genetic pool of the wild populations (still smaller than what would be expected from a population of the same size) and to promote the connection between the Alpine and the Pyrenean populations (see details about the LIFE GYPCONNECT project).

Photo: Hansruedi Weyrich

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