In August and September a total of 6 captive-bred Egyptian vultures have been released in Basilicata and Calabria, as part of an experiment led by CERM (on behalf of the Italian Ministry of the Environment), in collaboration with the Vulture Conservation Foundation and the Egyptian vulture EEP, to test procedures and get crucial data on the feasibility and relevance of captive-breeding and restocking/reintroduction projects with this species.
Two birds were released in August – Sara made it to Niger, where it is now wintering, but Agata drowned in the med.
Four other birds were released a bit later in Calabria. Tobia was the first one to depart from the release site, and after spending a night in Malta guarded by the Police, made it to Lybia, and is now crossing the Sahara desert in Algeria, following more or less the same route as Sara.
Unfortunately, we got bad news from Aneta – she also tried to reach Libya, making the big flight over the Mediterranean last week on the 25th September, but veered a bit too much to the east, and then did not make it across the 700km that separate Sicily from Benghazi – close to the coast of the African continent Aneta fell down in the sea, probably exhausted. This is the second of the Italian birds to drown – data coming from the Balkans also suggest that about 70% of all tagged nestlings ended up drowning in the med in their first migratory journey.
As for Carmen and Karel, they are still in Italy – Karel close to Regio di Calabria, while Carmen, which was rather reluctant to leave the release site, is now approaching the Messina straits.
You can check daily the whereabouts of the birds in the VCF website below