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2020 Annual Griffon Vulture Census in Sardinia shows a gradual increase of individuals

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Griffon Vultures in Sardinia (c) LIFE Under Griffon Wings

Since 2017, the Life Under Griffon Wings Project’s team and volunteers carried out regular censuses to estimate the Griffon Vulture population in Sardinia and evaluate the success of the restocking and other conservation efforts carried out within the project.

Even though the LIFE project ended in July 2020, two more censuses were carried out to ensure the continuity of monitoring the species.

Census overview

The census was carried out twice, the first time on 24, October and the second time on 14 November. The census comprised simultaneous observations with 18 positions located in the core areas, with at least one expert in each location, for the duration of three hours. They also used the GPS data received from the Griffon Vultures released as part of the restocking project to account for these birds while avoiding double counting. 

Estimation of population 

On 24 October, the team counted a minimum population of 234 Griffon Vultures with a maximum estimate of 272 individuals. On the second day on 14 November, a minimum individuals of 242 were counted, with a maximum estimate of 267 individuals. 

After cross-referencing data with results, Griffon Vultures’ minimum population in Sardinia corresponds to an ascertained 242 individuals, with the estimated maximum at 272 individuals. 

These results show the gradual increase of the species’ population on the island compared to the 2013 survey results, where 130 individuals were counted.

Read the report of the census in Italian

LIFE Under Griffon Wings

Led by Sassari University, the LIFE Under Griffon Wings project aims to improve the conservation status of Griffon Vultures in Sardinia. Their conservation efforts include improving food availability and establishing a network of farm feeding stations that are managed by the livestock breeders themselves. Furthermore, forming an anti-poison dog unit and developing communication actions to raise awareness on the threat caused by the illegal use of poisoned baits as well as carrying out an extensive restocking programme to enhance the small population by translocating around 60 birds from wildlife rehabilitation centres in Spain to Sardinia, which are managed by the Forestry Agency once they arrive.

The Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF) supports this important conservation project which was developed by the University of Sassari in partnership with the Municipality of Bosa, the Forestry Agency and the Corpo Forestale di Vigilanza Ambientale. The project is implemented in collaboration with the regional Departments of Environmental Protection and Health, the Regional Natural Park of Porto Conte, the Instituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale of Sardinia.

The VCF secures and transports the Griffon Vultures from Spain, and up until now, provided a total of 67 birds, fulfilling the requirements of the project. 

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