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Cinereous Vulture reintroduced in Bulgaria chooses to winter in Romania

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Cinereous Vulture reintroduced in Bulgaria chooses to winter in Romania
Cinereous Vulture Dzhuranli photographed in Romania © Cornel Cotorogea

The Cinereous Vulture Dzhuranli, originating from Spain, has been performing impressive movements and behaviours ever since its reintroduction in Bulgaria. He is also the first individual of its species choosing to winter in Romania in decades!

Coming from Spain for reintroduction in Bulgaria

The story of the Cinereous Vulture Dzhuranli begins in Spain. After hatching in the wild in Extremadura, the most important Spanish region for the species and perhaps worldwide, the young Cinereous Vulture needed rescuing and entered a recovery centre to receive treatment. Thankfully, he made a full recovery, and the Junta de Extremadura donated Dzhuranli, alongside 14 other Cinereous Vultures, to the Vultures Back to LIFE project. Coordinated efforts between the Junta Extremadura, AMUS (Acción por el Mundo Salvaje) and us at the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF) made the third transport of Spanish Cinereous Vultures to Bulgaria possible in the summer of 2020. Upon arrival, all vultures entered acclimatization aviaries to get used to their new home until their eventual release into the wild. Months later, on 3 March 2021, it was time to release Dzhuranli in the National Park Sinite Kamani. Ahead of the release, the Green Balkans and Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna teams equipped the vultures with a GPS transmitter, enabling the team to monitor Dzhuranli in real-time, while studying both the behaviour and condition of the bird.

Carrying out impressive travels

Cinereous Vulture reintroduced in Bulgaria chooses to winter in Romania map
The Cinereous Vulture flying over the Aegean Sea © Vultures Back to LIFE

In just a few months since the release, Dzhuranli travelled thousands of kilometres, crossing Bulgaria, Тurkey and Greece. His flight over the Aegean Sea was the most impressive – he covered 352 kilometres from the island of Marmara to the peninsula of Sithonia. That is 220 kilometres continuous flight over the Aegean Sea in 7 hours, flying at a speed of 79 km per hour. Fortunately, the bird had favourable winds all day. But his wandering did not stop – he eventually travelled to Romania, surprising us with a long-term stay. 

Choosing to winter in Romania

Cinereous Vulture reintroduced in Bulgaria chooses to winter in Romania map
GPS movements of the Cinereous Vulture in Romania © Vultures Back to LIFE

The Cinereous Vulture went extinct in Romania more than half a century ago. Until 2021, individuals of this species were sporadically reported while passing through the country. For the first time in years, the Cinereous Vulture Dzhuranli chose to stay longer in Dobrogea. The Măcin Mountains area, where Dzhuranli is currently wintering, is a historic nesting area for this species. About 100 years ago, the Cinereous Vulture nested in this area with other now-extinct species like the Egyptian Vulture.

Cinereous Vulture’s Nest in Dobrogea, 1925. Source- Two ornithologists on the lower Danube, H.Kirke Swann, J.H. McNeille, published by Wheldon and Wesley, London, 1925.
Cinereous Vulture’s Nest in Dobrogea, Romania, 1925. Source: Two ornithologists on the lower Danube, H.Kirke Swann, J.H. McNeille, published by Wheldon and Wesley, London, 1925.

A big thank you goes to our Romanian colleagues who closely monitor the movements of the bird in the area, evaluate his physical condition and help take care of him:

The Vultures Back to LIFE project

Led by Green Balkans in collaboration with the Fund for Wild Flora and FaunaVulture Conservation FoundationJunta de Extremadura and Euronatur, the Vultures Back to LIFE project aims to reintroduce the Cinereous or Eurasian Black Vulture to Bulgaria. The team will transfer and release into the wild around 60 birds, some coming from captive-breeding backgrounds but mostly from Spanish wildlife rehabilitation centres. The project will also create supplementary feeding stations, increase populations of wild herbivores, improve nesting conditions and tackle some of the major threats to support the return of the species.

vultures back to life partner funder logos

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