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New records for the rare Cinereous Vulture in the Central Balkan and Vrachanski Balkan

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A large excursion of the reintroduced Cinereous Vultures from the Eastern Balkan Mountains improved records for the species’ observations in a natural and a national park in Bulgaria.

Released Cinereous Vultures make excursions to the west

On February 13, 2020, the Cinereous Vultures released in the Eastern Balkan Mountains in 2019 within the Vultures Back To LIFE project made a big excursion to the west, gliding in a strong east wind, with a group of 8 out of the 10 individuals wintering in the Sliven/Kotel region reaching the Central Balkan. For the next 3-4 days the vultures spent the night and fed in the territory of the Central Balkan National Park in the area of Djendem and over the Tazha Gorge. This observation set a new record for the presence of the species on the territory of the National Park. So far, only rare Cinereous Vulture sightings of single individuals have been reported on the Park’s territory during the summer months, most likely coming from the last colony of the species on the Balkans – The Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli Forest National Park in Greece.

The movements of the Cinereous Vultures in Central Balkan

The Cinereous Vultures is thought to have disappeared from Bulgaria since the late 1970s. However, due to conservation measures taken in the following years, its presence increased in the Eastern Rhodopes and led to occasional nesting in the area.

Continuing their adventures

The Cinereous Vultures in the Vrachanski Balkan Nature Park

A few days later, six of the Cinereous Vultures returned to the Eastern Balkan Mountains, while two of them continued flying westwards, reaching the Vrachanski Balkan. There, they set another record, although, there were recent sightings of individual Cinereous Vultures in the area – two individuals at a time were now observed for the first time.

The Vultures Back To LIFE team hoped that they would stay longer, but the weather worsened, and the Cinereous Vultures did not manage to make contact with the conspecifics in the aviary awaiting their release in the area. After spending two nights in the Park near the location of the local Griffon Vultures’ traditional roosts, they moved to the east again, but this time individually to explore the Balkan Mountains and Sredna Gora. With food and overnight landings around Teteven, Lovech, Koprivshtitsa and other areas their excursion continues.

New records for a rare species

Thus, in a short time, one national and one nature park acquired new records of high presence of the Cinereous Vulture – a rare and extinct as a breeding species in Bulgaria. We hope that the project for the restoration of the species along the Balkan Mountains will continue with its success and we will soon report breeding of Cinereous Vultures in the eastern part, but also creating a nucleus and breeding ground of the species in the Vrachanski Balkan area with regular visits of individuals and small groups from the two regions to the Central Balkan National Park in summer.

Source: Fund for Wild Fauna and Flora

Vultures Back To LIFE

Led by the wildlife conservation charity Green Balkans, with activities also implemented by the Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna, and bringing together partners from Bulgaria, Spain and Germany, Vultures Back to LIFE aims to reintroduce the cinereous or Eurasian black vulture to Bulgaria. The team will transfer and release around 60 birds, some from captive-breeding, but mostly coming from wildlife rehabilitation centres in Extremadura (Spain) into the wild in Bulgaria as well as creating supplementary feeding stations and improving populations of wild herbivores, improving the nesting conditions and creating artificial nest sites and tackling some of the major threats to vultures in the country such as insulating electricity pylons and illegal use of poison in the nature.

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