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One altore across Europe – or how a Corsican bearded vultures chick flew from Bastia to Madrid to be adopted by a captive pair

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The Corsican bearded vulture chick hatched artificially on the 18th of March, as part of an emergency plan to save the highly threatened island population, was yesterday (1st April) transported by a VCF technician across half of Europe, by air and land, to be adopted by an adult breeding pair in the Bearded Vulture Captive Breeding Specialized Unit at Guadalentín, Andalusia, Spain, managed by the Junta de Andalusia and Fundación Gypaetus.

The chick hatched from an egg extracted from the nest of a Corsican breeding pair that had not reproduced successfully for more than a decade. After some days of intensive rearing in a facility in Corsica, the chick had to be adopted by an adult pair to be reared naturally and thus contribute to the captive-breeding network, managed by the VCF, and used exclusively for conservation purposes – every year many young are released in the three ongoing bearded vulture reintroduction projects (Alps, Grands-Causses/Massif Central and Andalusia). Only natural reared birds are able to reproduce without behavioral alterations and are appropriate for the reintroduction projects

The chick endured yesterday – seemingly in very good spirit! – a grueling trip. The day started very early in Corsica, with the trip down to Bastia, from where the chick and the VCF technician flew to Paris – the bird nicely packed in a transport box that flew inside the passenger cabin, to the amusement of many passengers. After some hours of transit in Paris, it flew to Madrid, where the staff from the Fundación Gypatus collected it, and took it by car to the Guadalentín centre, where it will be given to the foster parents during the weekend.

This chick will be included in the bearded vulture captive breeding network, in order to create a Corsican genetic reserve. In turn, two young birds from the captive breeding network will be released later this year in Corsica to boost the extremely small population. This work is part of an integrated plan to save the species in Corsica, being implemented by the VCF and the Parc Nature Regional de Corse, and is partly funded by the Fondation Prince Albert II de Monaco and the Fundació Barcelona zoo.

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