Recently most eyes have been focusing on the valiant performance of Modric, Rakitic and their team members in the recent football World Cup, but for many years a dedicated team of volunteers and professionals has been doing a not less valiant, but rather anonymous, work on some beautiful islands in the country.
For nearly 30 years Croatia’s Grifon – Birds of Prey Society, has been working hard to protect and conserve the last of Croatia’s Griffon vulture population and this year marks an important landmark in those efforts, the ringing of the 1000th bird.
Each May conservationists and volunteers from Grifon head to the Kvarner Bay islands and ring the Griffon vultures that are breeding high on the cliffs. This year was the 29th season the team has undertaken the exercise, which allows ornithologists to identify and monitor individual birds. The team works for two weeks and is made up of professional climbers, scientists, and volunteers. Climbing down the sheer face of sea cliffs the team make their way to identified vulture nests and ring the young Griffon vulture just before they are about to fledge.
This season the team managed to ring 16 birds, bringing the total to 1,004 Griffon vultures ringed over 29 seasons, a fantastic achievement. The team gave the 1,000th bird ringed the name of Banco, to celebrate the occasion as Banco was the name of the very first Griffon vulture ringed,
Last year there were over 5,000 sightings of ringed Griffon vultures on the Croatian islands which is helping scientists and conservationists understand the movements and state of the population of these birds.
Griffons vultures in Croatia
Once widespread across the country, Griffon vultures can only be found today on the Kvarner islands of Cres, Krk, Plavnik, Prvic and Rab. The population has slowly been increasing in the country from 60 pairs in the 1990’s to around 108 breeding pairs last year, thanks in large part to dedicated conservation efforts. As well as the pioneering Grifon, BIOM (BirdLife in Croatia) and governmental conservation agencies have been working hard to conserve the species.
Led by BIOM, we have been working with our Croatian partners to develop a national species action plan for Griffon vultures that will provide a framework for the long-term recovery of the species in build a long term is species.
Congratulations to the whole team at Grifon! And well done team Croatia!