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Census of roosting griffon vultures in the Balkans – 25th November 2017

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Vulture population in the Balkans are much depleted, and one species (bearded vulture) even got extinct, with cinereous vulture only surviving in one extant colony in south-eastern Europe in Dadia (Greece). Griffon vultures managed to persist in several breeding colonies scattered across the region, even though the total Balkan population (600+ pairs) is only a fraction of those in western Europe (close to 30,000 pairs).

A number of conservation organisations have been doing a lot of effort to restore and conserve vultures across the Balkans, especially in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece, Serbia and Croatia.

One of them, the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB), is again organising the 2017 roosting count of griffon vultures across the Balkans. Griffons are migratory in the Balkans, with significant movements of Balkan breeding birds wintering in Africa and the Middle East, but many spend the winter in south-eastern Europe, and this count will try to estimate the size of that population.

The original date – 18th November – was now moved to 25th due to the weather forecast. These censuses were started in 2005 in the Rhodope Mountains between Greece and Bulgaria, and year by year they have been expanding to cover more areas. Last year up to 729 birds were counted in three countries.

Among the organisations involved in the census this year, and apart from BSPB, which will count roosts in eastern Rhodopes, there is the management Body of Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli National Forest (that will census vultures in Dadia, Greece), the team of the Vultures Back to LIFE project – Green Balkans, BPPS and FWFF, which will cover several areas in the in the Balkan Mountains and Kresna Gorge (Bulgaria).

If you want to participate, please contact

Photo: Bruno Berthémy/VCF

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