Bearded vultures continue to increase in the Alps, and confirm that the reintroduction project that started there 30 years ago is one of the greatest wildlife comeback stories of our times.
This year´s breeding season confirmed there are at least 45 occupied territories across this mountain chain. There are three territories in the eastern part of the Alps, 18 in the Central Alps, 20 in the north-western Alps and four in the south-western part of the Alpine range (see map). In terms of countries, there are 3 pairs in Austria, 20 in Switzerland, 9 in Italy and 13 in France (see map).
At least 39 of these pairs have laid eggs – amongst those, three new breeding pairs, in Bonette (FRA – south-west), Buffalora (CH – Central) and Trupchun (CH – Central). These produced at least 32 fledglings, of which 2 have already fledged, and 22 are about to fledge. We still wait for information from the remainder 8 other young bearded vultures. Two of the fledglings were in new established pairs (Bonette F and Buffalora CH).
Last year 43 breeding territories produced 25 fledglings, while in 2015 there were 34 pairs and 20 fledglings (see graph). So we are on course for another record breaking season!
The VCF coordinates the reintroduction project in the Alps, together with many partners in 4 countries. First releases started in 1986, the first breeding in the wild was in 1997 and now we are only releasing genetically rare individuals to strengthen the genetic diversity of the population before closing this most successful project – the population is now expanding rapidly with the breeding of wild pairs.