Casseur d´os – twenty years old and going strong

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Remarkable story of a network of people in love with bearded vultures

The 20th anniversary of the network Casseur d’os was celebrated in mid-June in Aulon (Hautes-Pyrénées). This network gathers volunteers and bearded vulture enthusiasts around the monitoring of the bearded vulture in the north (French) slope of the Pyrenees. The network is coordinated by the LPO (Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux), within the framework of various conservation programs and the species action plans.

In 1994, when Casseur d’os was established, there were only 18 territories in the French Pyrenees – 17 in the western half and only 1 in the eastern half of the north slope. These started to be monitored by approximately 100 volunteers from less than 10 organizations that have adhered to the network. Various people in this network also managed 9 feeding places for the bearded vulture. Those were installed in both extremes of the occupied territories to promote the re-colonisation of the rest of the Pyrenees.

Today the population has increased to 39 territories, now monitored by about 350 volunteers from 15 organizations. Thanks in part to their hard work, the eastern half of the French Pyrenees have been successfully re-colonized, with 17 territories there – one step closer to link one day the Pyrenean population with those of the Alps, where the VCF has successfully reintroduced the species, via the Grands Causses, where a reintroduction project is currently underway.

In spite of the increase in population, several threats are still affecting bearded vulture in the Pyrenees: disturbance (helicopter flying, outdoor sports, etc.), poison, lead intoxication and direct persecution continue to kill or affect bearded vultures, and Casseur d’os has been instrumental in dealing with those too.

It was great to see the enthusiasm and dedication of so many volunteers to this magnificent bird. The VCF was present at the meeting and shared with the participants the latest on the Bearded Vulture European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), and an overview of the evolution of the European populations. Happy birthday Casseur d’os, thank you all the commitment and effort by the volunteers, and very well done LPO for coordinating this great initiative.

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