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Following the movements of yet another Portuguese Cinereous Vulture

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The recently tagged Cinereous Vulture (c) LPN

We can now track the movements of another young Cinereous Vulture in Portugal! Recently, Liga para a Protecção da Natureza (LPN) and Associação Transumância e Natureza (ATN) have successfully fitted the bird in Southern Portugal with one of our GPS transmitters funded by the MAVA Foundation.

The recently tagged Cinereous Vulture

Conservationists from LPN recently identified another nestling Cinereous Vulture to be tagged in Herdade da Contenda, which has been collaborating in this species conservation. The vulture was around 80-85 days old, weighed 7.9kg, and it seemed to be healthy. LPN and ATN staff tagged the bird with one of our MAVA-funded GPS transmitters, allowing us to track the vultures’ movements. Besides the tag, it was also fitted with a metal ring and a red coloured ring, which will enable easier and quicker identification.

Monitoring Portuguese Cinereous Vultures

Last year, we reported on the first ever nestling Cinereous Vulture in Portugal that was tagged by LPN, a bird baptized Murtigão – you can follow his movements here. Since then the monitoring efforts of the species in the country continue – three more Cinereous Vultures that entered wildlife rehabilitation centres have been tagged and are being followed. Again, see where they are here.

The transmitter weighs only a few grams and yet it provides invaluable information that will help inform more accurate conservation actions. We will understand the movements, foraging ranges and habits of the birds, and it will also allow us to detect when the vultures are no longer moving and potentially injured. The data also reveals any threats the vultures may face during travelling, providing insights that will allow conservationist to carry out actions that reduce risks and help support the species comeback in the area.   

Cinereous Vultures in Portugal 

Cinereous Vulture in flight (c) Bruno Berthemy

Cinereous Vultures became extinct as breeding species in Portugal in the 1970s, mostly due to the use of poisoned carcasses targeting unwanted predators. An increasing population in Spain saw the species regularly visiting Portugal to forage with the first pair breeding in central Portugal (Tejo Internacional) in 2010 (where now there is a small colony of more than fifteen pairs), and then in north-eastern Portugal (one single pair). And in 2015 the species recolonised Herdade da Contenda in south-eastern Portugal, and has bred there successfully ever since – there are at least eight breeding pairs there now.  

Working for the recovery of Cinereous Vultures  

With the recovery of the species in Spain, there has been a range of conservation projects supporting the conservation of the Cinereous Vultures in Portugal such as the cross-border LIFE Rupis project in the Douro Canyon. The LPN also led on a multimillion Euro conservation project, Habitat Lince Abutre, which came to an end in 2014 and supported by the EU’s LIFE+ programme. The project established a network of 10 feeding sites and constructed 30 artificial nesting platforms, which were instrumental to the successful breeding of pairs in southern Portugal.  

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