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Cinereous Vulture Orca ready to be re-released

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Orca (c) CERVAS/Ricardo Brandão

We have been closely monitoring the movements of Cinereous Vulture Orca for the past year, but we recently noticed that the bird was making some odd movements. A team went to check on Orca and saw first hand that the vulture required help. 


Orca released back into the wild in December 2018 after spending four months recovering from injuries at CERAS Wildlife Recovery Centre (c) Jorge Infante/QuercusCB

Orca is a young Cinereous Vulture that was found injured in September 2018. The team at Centro de Estudos e Recuperação de Animais Selvagens (CERVAS), managed by the Portuguese wildlife organisation Quercusrescued and rehabilitated the bird. Thanks to them, Orca managed to make a full recovery over the four months at the rehabilitation centre. In mid-December 2018, the bird was equipped with one of our GPS transmitters, funded by the MAVA Foundation, to monitor its movements Orca was then released back into the wild at Natural Park Tejo Internacional, home to Portugal’s largest colony of the species.  

Second Rescue

Fast forward one year, and the vulture needed some help again. Thanks to the GPS tracker, we were able to see that he was making some odd movements, flying almost 2000 km in one week and probably without finding much food. Orca went all the way to southern Portugal, and then flew along the Atlantic coast north, flying above Lisbon, and then continued north through central Portugal. So on the 16 September, António Monteiro from ICNF (the statutory conservation agency in Portugal) went to the field to check up on the bird and saw that Orca looked weak. He managed to capture him and took him to CERVAS for rehabilitation. Just recently Orca was transferred to CERVAS/Quercus rehabilitation centre for final examination and re-release. Orca weighed only 6 kg when recaptured, but at this age, the bird’s healthy weight should have been at least 8 kg. At the centre, he was placed in a flight cage with Griffon Vultures and started feeding well. After a month in recovery, Orca now weighs 8kg and is flying quite well. The vulture is now almost ready to be re-released into the wild!

Update 13/11/2019

Orca returned to nature for the second time!

Ahead of the re-release, the bird was transferred to CERVAS in Castelo Branco for final evaluation where it was determined that it was healthy enough to be released. On 13 November at the 8.3kg, he was re-released at the International Tagus Natural Park in a breeding area of the species with enough available food.

You can follow the movements of Orca by visiting our online public maps.

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