As of 12:36 yesterday, the Griffon Vultures “Dresden 1” and “Dresden 2” were set free to fly in the Sardinian skies as part of the new LIFE Safe for Vultures.
Transferring ‘German’ Griffon Vultures to Sardinia
The two Griffon Vultures take their name from the facility they hatched at – Dresden Zoo in Germany. Both vultures are young male individuals that hatched in 2020. Since 2010, the zoo has been home to a young group of Griffon Vultures bred to support conservation initiatives with the support of us at the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF). Dresden 1 and Dresden 2 were generously donated by Dresden Zoo to the ongoing restocking efforts in Sardinia and arrived on the island one year ago, travelling thousands of km via animal-safe transportation couriers, with costs covered by us. Upon arrival, the birds spend about 20 days in a quarantine station at the Bonassai wildlife recovery centre. A team from the LIFE Under Griffon Wings project, the predecessor of LIFE Safe for Vultures, transferred them to the acclimatisation aviary built and managed by Agenzia Regionale Forestas in Monte Minerva in the territory of Villanova Monteleone. There, they spent the past months getting used to their new Mediterranean home.
Releasing the vultures into the wild after hatching in captivity
Agenzia Regionale Forestas staff with professors and students of the Veterinary Medicine Department at the University of Sassari arrived at the forestry site early on to carry out the necessary preparatory actions for the release. Among others, a key step was the installation of GPS transmitters on the two vultures as part of the ongoing monitoring efforts that allow conservationists to learn about their behaviour and movements. This action further allows the team to assess the actual effectiveness of the activities implemented in favour of the Griffon Vulture population of Sardinia.
After looking through the fence for an hour and a half at the valley that opens up towards Bosano and Pozzomaggior, Dresden 1 and Dresden 2 finally took off, heading towards the village in the Sassarese area!
What a great effort highlighting the importance of collaboration in conservation – well done to all involved!
LIFE Safe for Vultures
LIFE Safe for Vultures is a new project co-financed by the EU’s LIFE Programme, acting as the first step to the restoration of the vulture guild in Sardinia. The University of Sassari leads the project in collaboration with Agenzia Regionale Forestas, Sardegna Corpo Forestale, E-Distribuzione and the Vulture Conservation Foundation. LIFE Safe for Vultures builds on the work of the successful LIFE Under Griffon Wings, with the ultimate objective for Griffon Vultures to regain their historic ranges and distribution areas from the central-eastern part of Sardinia to the south and at the same time promote the long-term survival of the species on the island. The project team is working to expand the network of farm feeding stations, create several anti-poison dog units to tackle wildlife poisoning, establish an additional feeding station in the south of the island, restock the population by importing 40 additional Griffon Vultures and reduce the threat of collision and electrocution with energy infrastructures.