A serious act of poaching was detected at Torre Pellice in southwestern Italy early this week. A Griffon Vulture was shot and found in distress. The relevant authorities quickly recovered the bird and transported it to a rehabilitation centre for recovery. It was in a critical condition, but it seems that the treatment is working and the vulture is regaining its strength.
Citizens discovered the weak Griffon Vulture on 15 June at Torre Pellice and notified the Carabinieri Forestali officials who swiftly recovered the poor bird and transferred it to Centro Animali Non Convenzionali (CANC) for rehabilitation.
Once at CANC, veterinarians realized that the vulture was in a serious state of deterioration, malnutrition and dehydration. They performed X-rays shortly after, which revealed the presence of shotgun pellets in its left wing. The Carabinieri Forestali officials presume that once the bird hit the ground following the gunshot injury, it could no longer resume flight and feed itself.
The veterinarians at the centre were racing against time to save the wounded and undernourished vulture. Thankfully, the Griffon Vulture was already giving positive signs of recovery just after the first treatments. Now, after a few days of intense care at the centre, the Griffon Vulture can stand up and feed on its own again.
We hope that the vulture will make a full recovery and return to the wild soon! Well done to the citizens who notified the authorities, and of course to Carabinieri Forestali and CANC for their diligent efforts to save the bird.
Poaching of vultures
According to the Vulture Multi-Species Action Plan we co-developed that was endorsed by the Convention of Migratory Species, poaching is not considered to be a highly severe threat to vultures in Europe. But, it is still very relevant for countries in the Middle East and Central Asia. In recent years, however, conservationists detected several poaching incidents of vultures and raptors in Europe that were equipped with GPS tags. To name a few, the fatal poaching of the reintroduced Cinereous Vulture Ultron in Bulgaria in 2020 or the Bearded Vulture that had gunshot injuries in Switzerland in 2019. The latest case of this Griffon Vulture that was unmarked, further highlights that in some regions of Europe, poaching of rare and protected species still occurs. Even if there is strong legislation in place, the problem in most cases is enforcement. We hope that the person responsible will be brought to justice, but it is very unlikely.
Vultures in Italy
Italy was once home to breeding colonies of all four species of European Vultures. But over the last century, Bearded Vultures and Cinereous Vultures were declared extinct, the Egyptian Vultures disappeared from much of central and southern Italy, and the Griffon Vultures was verging on disappearing from the country with just a small population on Sardinia. However, thanks to the dedicated effort of conservation teams, all but the Cinereous Vultures are breeding across Italy. The Bearded Vultures has returned to the Italian Alps, Griffon Vultures have been reintroduced in several sites, and a small population of Egyptian Vultures in southern Italy is still hanging on.
Sign up to our newsletter and never miss any vulture news!