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LIFE+ GYPCONNECT starts – linking bearded vultures from the Alps to the Pyrenees

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The new LIFE+ project GYPCONECT – funded by the EU LIFE Fund – has bow officially started. Led by the League pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO), in partnership with the VCF, Vautours en Baronnies,  Centre National d’ Informations Toxicologiques Vétérinaires, Electricité Réseau Distribution France, Parc National des Cévennes, Parc Naturel Régional du Vercors, and the Université Pierre et Marie Curie – Paris 6, this project aims to establish a breeding population of bearded vultures in the massif central, as well as in the Pre-Alps, through reintroduction, and promoting dispersal movements between the Alps and the Pyrenean population.

The VCF will be responsible for all the captive breeding part of the project – the source of the reintroduced birds, as well as for most of the monitoring of the birds, including the tagging of birds, the monitoring of their movements, genetic monitoring of the population, among other research components. The VCF will also collaborate ion the reintroduction operations proper, from selection of the best sites for reintroduction to advice on feeding regimes.

This project is part of the VCF strategy to restore the species in western Europe, now that the Alpine population is firmly re-established – 34 pairs in 2015 and a record 20 fledglings, and with the first breeding in the wild in Andalucía happening also this year (following extinction there in the 80s, and the start of the reintroduction project 9 years ago), this project aims to promote movements of the species between Iberia and the Alps, thus promoting gene flow, which will also help increasing the genetic diversity of the alpine population, and thus accelerate the end of the reintroduction project there.

The reintroduction project in the Grands Causses has started 5 years ago, and with this project will see a significant boost. At least 4 birds per year will be released in the region in the next 6 years, two in the Grands Causses (Massif Central), and two alternately in Baronnies and in the Vercors – the westernmost pre-Alps.

The project kick-off meeting was held recently in Montpellier, during which project partners discussed project management procedures and started to plan in earnest the first actions on the ground – watch this space for exciting news!

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