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Bearded vultures in Stelvio National Park and the Ötztal Alps (Italy)

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The reintroduction of the bearded vulture to the Alps is one of the greatest conservation stories of the last decades in Europe – extinct 100 years ago, a reintroduction project started in the late 70s, when a captive breeding network was established to breed bearded vultures for reintroduction, in a project coordinated by the VCF. Young bearded vulture chicks have been released yearly in the Alps since 1986 – first breeding in the wild happened 11 years later, in 1997. Now there are about 30 territorial pairs established.

The main nucleus is in the centre of the Alps, in an area straddling Switzerland and Italy (Swiss National Park & Stelvio National Park), certainly supported by the 37 birds released there between 1991 and 2008 (26 in the Swiss National Park and 11 in Val Martello, Stelvio NP). First breeding in the area occurred in 1998 (in Stelvio), while breeding in Switzerland started in 2007. There are now 12 pairs there, 6 in Italy – 4 of which inside Stelvio National Park, and 6 in Switzerland.

This year, Enrico Gombala, a Czech film maker that collaborates with the VCF, has spent some time filming the bearded vultures in Stelvio – please enjoy the beautiful scenes below. There are now four pairs inside the Stelvio national park – one breeding since 1998 (produced 11 fledglings since then), another one established the following year (1999 – 13 fledglings ever since), one established in 2002 (from which 10 chicks have fledged), and a new pair established last year, which has not yet bred successfully.

Bearded vultures are back in force. Enjoy them!

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