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Annual simultaneous survey of griffon vultures in Cyprus: 15 birds counted

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On the 15th December 2014 fifteen volunteers and staff from BirdLife Cyprus and the Game Fund, took part in the annual count of griffon vultures in Cyprus, distributed over seven survey lookout points in the western part of the island.

Once common, griffon vultures decreased significantly on the eastern Mediterranean island and were on the verge of extinction, victims to poison, direct persecution and lack of food – in 2010 only 10 birds and two regular breeding pairs remained.

In 2010, a project to reinforce the population with birds from Crete was implemented by the Game Fund, with BirdLife Cyprus, the Department of Forestry, the Natural History Museum of Crete and Gortyna Municipality in Crete. In total 25 griffon vultures from Crete, mostly birds that entered rehabilitation centers because they were found weak, lost or poisoned, arrived in Cyprus and 10 have already been were released, after some time in acclimatization cages. This was completed by anti-poisoning campaigns and the establishment of two new feeding sites for vultures.

The total number registered in the simultaneous annual count was low – the population should now reach around 20 individuals. At least 5 of the bird registered were birds originally from Crete, as these have wing tags. Photos by BirdLife Cyprus

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