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  • Egyptian Vulture  milestone in Bulgaria! A captive-bred female breeds successfully in the wild for the first time  

Egyptian Vulture  milestone in Bulgaria! A captive-bred female breeds successfully in the wild for the first time  

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The Egyptian Vultures conservation community in Bulgaria celebrates an incredible milestone and welcomes two new Egyptian Vultures chicks. For the first time, a captive-bred Egyptian Vulture formed a pair with a wild individual and hatched two healthy chicks in the wild. 

Egyptian Vulture chick in the nest in a rock cavity
Izi and Lucky’s chicks in their nest

Bulgaria welcomes two special Egyptian Vultures chicks 

The Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds recorded the first successful breeding in the wild in Bulgaria of a captive-bred Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus)

. This event marks a milestone for the conservation of the species in the Balkans.  

The record pair is formed by a captive-bred female, Izi, and a wild male named Lucky, tagged in Bulgaria in 2020. The two occupied their breeding territory two years ago, in 2022. However, they successfully managed to breed and hatch two healthy chicks only this year. 

Izi hatched in the Wildlife Rehabilitation and Breeding Centre of the Green Balkans in 2019. In 2020, the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds team released her in the wild with the delayed release method. The method consists in transferring young vultures into an adaptation aviary. It allows the birds to safely gain strength and experience before starting their life in the wild and facing the long fall migration to Africa.  

Thanks to a GPS transmitter, the Egyptian Vultures New LIFE programme team was able to follow Izi’s movements in the past years: from the wintering grounds in Sudan to Bulgaria, and to her new breeding territory in the Eastern Rhodopes Mountains. They have been also carefully monitoring Izi and Lucky’s nest. The two parents are taking very good care of their chicks which are growing fast and should leave the nest by August! Izi’s recent breeding success confirms how important and effective the Egyptian Vulture captive-breeding and restocking programme is for the Bulgarian Egyptian Vultures population.  

Captive-breeding and restocking programme successes in Bulgaria 

The Bulgarian Egyptian Vulture restocking programme started in 2018 and was implemented by BSPB, Green Balkans, Prague Zoo, and EAZA. So far, 5 captive-bred individuals released within the programme have formed pairs in the wild.  

In 2022, Boyana, one of the first captive-bred Egyptian Vultures released as part of the Egyptian Vultures new LIFE programme, formed the first recorded pair between a captive-bred Egyptian Vulture and a wild one in the wild in Bulgaria, but the two did not have the chance to mate that year. 

This year, Izi might not be the only captive-bred Egyptian Vulture to welcome chicks in the wild in Bulgaria. Her sister, Zara, is incubating an egg. The BSPB is monitoring her nest to find whether she will also hatch her first chick in the wild.  

These hopeful stories are vital successes for the restocking programme and the Egyptian Vultures New Life Programme. They demonstrate the effectiveness of the captive breeding programme, and give all of us hope for the future of this species in Bulgaria. We wish Izi and Lucky’s chicks the best life in the wild! 

The Egyptian Vulture New LIFE project

egyptian vulture new life logo

Working collaboratively, projects like the Egyptian Vulture New LIFE aims to reinforce the Egyptian Vulture population across the Balkans, which is Europe’s easternmost range for the species. By actively managing and restocking the population by releasing captive-bred birds, the project will support the small Balkan population, numbering between 60 and 80 pairs. The Egyptian Vulture New LIFE team is working to deliver conservation measures that eliminate major known threats such as illegal poisoning and electrocution in their summer breeding grounds. They also use GPS transmitters to monitor the population to help identify and combat the threats Egyptian Vultures face. Funded by the EU’s LIFE Programme and led by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds, the project has a partnership spanning 14 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa to protect the species all along their flyway.

Egyptian-Vulture-New-LIFE Funder Partner-LOGOS

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