The Egyptian Vulture Buoux, wild hatched in France in 2018, has travelled more than 60,000 km in the last four years. It spent several months in rehabilitation, as it was rescued twice, but now Buoux seems to take the most advantage of its freedom. In September, however, we stopped receiving data from its GPS transmitter when it was close to Gibraltar, heading to its wintering destination in Africa. Where is Buoux?
Rescued and rehabilitated twice
Wild hatched in the Baronnies in 2018, Buoux was ringed when it was still in the nest by Vautours en Baronnies. In September, Buoux was found in trouble: its parents had already headed to Africa, but it was left behind. The LPO PACA team rescued and brought it to the wildlife rescue centre ‘Centre régional de sauvegarde de la faune sauvage in Buoux, to check its condition. It had injuries on its wing, possibly due to an eagle attack and stood in the centre until March, missing the autumn migration to Africa.
Before release, it was fitted with a GPS transmitter provided by the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF) and funded by MAVA. Two months after releasing it, there was something wrong with Buoux. The last GPS data received showed it was around Huesca, in Aragon, so we prompted our colleagues from the Government of Aragon, who found the bird and brought it to the Egines Recovery Centre. This time, Buoux had a broken wing due to a collision with a cable. It spent one year in rehabilitation, and on 6 May 2020, it was finally released back into the wild.
An amazing traveller
After its second release, Buoux explored Spain for the whole summer before heading south for its first migration to Africa. In the meantime, it has crossed the Gibraltar Straight six times and explored areas unusual for Egyptian Vultures. In Europe, Buoux crossed the Pyrenees, visited Aude and the Massif Central, flew over Switzerland in a single day and reached Heilbronn, just north of Stuttgart. On the way back, crossed the Alps, flew over Austria and Italy, and reached Verdon. In Africa, Buoux wintered mainly in Southern Mauritania and Mali.
In Europe this summer, Buoux travelled 10,000 km
Once again, Buoux showed off its flying skills and curiosity, being the tagged Egyptian Vulture that travelled the most this summer. It flew almost 10,000 km between July and August, an impressive number that excludes the migratory route before it reached Verdon in March this year.
Buoux visited the French Alps in Verdon this summer, explored the Massif Central, and crossed the Pyrenees to Spain. After a minor injury close to Lleida (was his bad luck back?), Buoux continued moving towards the south, crossing the provinces of Valencia and Castilla-La-Mancha and was one of the first tagged Egyptian Vultures getting close to Gibraltar in late August.
No data from Buoux’s GPS transmitter
When Buoux was close to Gibraltar in late August, its GPS transmitter stopped emitting data. We were concerned about its condition. After contacting Ornitela, our partner in GPS transmitters, they confirmed that Buoux crossed the Gibraltar Strait. On September 4, the transmitter started to connect to the Mauritanian network, a sign that the bird had reached that region. The reasons why Buoux’s GPS transmitter is not emitting data are still unknown to us, but we expect we will soon receive its data. The good news is that the GPS is still attached to Buoux, and the bird is fine in its wintering destination.
The importance of tracking Vulture movements with GPS transmitters
Together with our local partners across Europe and beyond, we are following dozens of individuals of the five European Vulture species. We tag vultures in the nest, individuals that enter wildlife rescue centres and captive-bred juveniles before being released in the wild.
Tracking movements with GPS transmitters allows us to keep track of their dispersion patterns, monitor the birds’ health condition and act in case suspicious data is being received. That saved Buoux’s life when its wing was broken in Aragon, and many other birds were rescued just in time to be rehabilitated and released.