The young male bearded vulture – named Larzac – that left the Grands Causses several weeks ago to make a complete tour of the Netherlands, and that had disappeared in northern Germany, has now been found dead.
After spending some time in the Netherlands and Belgium, Larzac flew to northern Germany on the 2nd of July. He reached the island of Fehman before he turned around and flew back to the mainland. The last data from his GPS tag was received on the 4th of July, in the Schleswig-Holstein region.
Local birders checked the place of the last GPS position, but they could not find Larzac, nor the transmitter. Soon after, we have mobilized German colleagues to spread the news about Larzac´s disappearance. Conservation organizations such as NABU, BUND, OAG (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Ornithologische Schleswig-Holstein), and all rehabilitation centers in the region were contacted. And the news spread quickly. Several articles about Larzac were published in specialized and generalist press – so much so that we have received two possible observations of Larzac, on the 13th and 20th of July 2016. These observations were very approximate and hardly credible but gave us hope.
Unfortunately, the corpse of Larzac was found on Monday 25th of July 2016 by a NABU volunteer. The body was underneath a non-electrified line (pending removal after being buried!). Considering the state of decomposition of the corpse of Larzac, we can assume that his death goes back to the beginning of July.
The rests are now being sent to France for comprehensive post-mortem analysis, so that we try to determine the exact cause of death.
Out of 11 birds released so far in the Grands Causses reintroduction project, this is the third death registered– in 2013 Dourbie died after colliding with an electrical line, and this year Aigoual died after being bitten by a viper.
Flying great distances and exploring new areas is normal for young bearded vultures. To fly all the way to the north is not that common, but it happens every now and then, usually in Spring. This summer bearded vultures have already been seen in Belgium, the UK, Denmark, and Poland-Ukraine.
The normal home of bearded vultures are the mountainous regions of Europe, Asia and Africa. There they find the perfect conditions for flying, steep walls for breeding & open landscape to search for bones to feed on. Let’s hope Larzac finds the way back to the mountains!
The VCF is reintroducing bearded vultures in three mountain ranges – the Alps, Andalusia, and in the Massif Central-Grands Causses – the latter project is locally managed by LPO, and is now financed by an EU LIFE grant – LIFE GYPCONNECT – see http://gypaetebarbu.fr/life-gypconnect/
The VCF and the LPO would like to thank all the dozen individuals that have helped searching for Larzac, in particular Mr. Ludwichowski (NABU Schleswig-Holstein)
Photo: Hans Pohlmann & Jaap Denee