A couple of weeks ago, a surprising story flooded the newspapers and social media in Spain: a Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) collides with a truck, making a big hole in the windshield and ending up in the co-pilot seat. What happened to the Griffon Vulture afterwards?
Griffon Vulture collides with a truck
It was a normal day for David Hernandéz, who has been a truck driver for more than 20 years. David was riding along a regional road between Soria and Catalayud, in the Castilla y León region, when the incident happened: a Griffon Vulture crashed into the truck’s windshield and got trapped, with half of its body hanging inside. Pieces of glass were projected in and outside the cabin, and David, surprised by the impact and only able to see from a small breach between the animal and the cracked windshield, was able to safely stop the car on the roadside.
As David came out of the car, the Griffon Vulture was still hanging on the windshield. He noticed that curious passersby stopped to see what happened and as he approached to warn them to drive slowly, the vulture suddenly disappeared. Puzzled by the location of the bird and wondering if he would have fallen in the ditch, David realised that the vulture was able to sneak into the cabin and was standing on the co-pilot seat.
“When I called the emergency line, no one believed me.”
As David called the emergency line and asked for support to deal with the alive bird, no one believed his story. After all, colliding with a Griffon Vulture is a rare event. The emergency support arrived swiftly and could not decide the best way to help the bird come out of the car. But as soon as they opened the side door, the Griffon Vulture opened its big winds and flew away as if nothing had happened.
Fortunately, the incident caused no victims or car collisions, thanks to the composed demeanour that the truck driver was able to maintain. Apart from an amazing story to tell, David had only some minor injuries as he was hit by some of the glass debris. As for the Griffon Vulture, it seemed unharmed as it was able to leave on its own. This shows how tough and resistant Griffon Vultures can be. A bizarre story with a happy ending!
Spain hosts almost 85% of the European Griffon Vulture population
Collisions with Griffon Vultures are very rare, but if there is a country where it could happen, it would definitely be Spain. According to the latest report, “Population estimates for the five European vulture species: 2022 update”, produced by the Vulture Conservation Foundation, Spain is home to almost 85% of the Griffon Vulture European population, with an estimate of 30.100-36.500 breeding pairs.
Over the last decade, Griffon Vultures have been facing a positive trend across the Iberian Peninsula, although the situation is not as encouraging in Eastern Europe. Therefore, Spain is an important partner in reintroduction and restocking efforts ongoing in countries. Juveniles that fall into wildlife rescue centres are rehabilitated and transferred to other locations in Europe, to help to strengthen the local population. This year, 14 Griffon Vultures arrived in Cyprus, and 12 were transferred to Sardinia. Also, for the first time, wild pairs from Spain are trying to get a foothold in northern Morocco, as two females are currently incubating in the Jbel Moussa Protected Area.
The Griffon Vulture is the most social of Europe’s vulture species: it forages and feeds in groups, and breeds in large colonies that can host over 100 breeding pairs. As a scavenger bird, the Griffon Vulture plays a fundamental role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. By feeding on the carcasses of dead animals, they likely help contain the spread of diseases and reduce the threat to other species.
Source: La Gaceta de Salamanca