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Reintroduced Cinereous Vulture Kutelka performs impressive travels and finds a partner

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Koutelka is a Cinereous Vulture from Spain that arrived in Bulgaria as part of the Vultures Back to LIFE reintroduction project. Ever since her release, Kutelka carried out impressive journeys, enduring many trials and obstacles along the way. 

Cinereous Vulture Kutelka arrives in Bulgaria from Spain

First flight of Cinereous Vulture Kutelka in Bulgaria © Green Balkans
First flight of Cinereous Vulture Kutelka in Bulgaria © Green Balkans

A crucial part of the Vultures Back to LIFE reintroduction project is importing Cinereous Vultures from Spain for their eventual release in Bulgaria. Every year in Spain, young Cinereous Vultures in distress enter wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centres – some make a recovery and return to the Spanish nature while others support conservation projects abroad. The Junta de Extremadura donates some birds to this project annually, and AMUS prepares them for transport by conducting the necessary quarantine period and health checks. The Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF) then arranges the transportation to Bulgaria, where birds travel in suitable vehicles, covering over 4,000 km by land. The Cinereous Vulture Kutelka arrived in Bulgaria back in 2018. The Green Balkans and Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna swiftly transferred her to the specially constructed acclimatisation aviary, where she spent several months adapting to Bulgaria’s nature, her new home. They then released her in Blue Stone National Park on 26 March 2019. 

Kutelka faces some difficulties during her travels

Rescue of Kutelka in Romania
Rescue of Kutelka in Romania © ACDB

Just a month after her release, Kutelka headed to Romania, where they found her exhausted. Our colleagues from Milvus Group and ACDB – Action for Wildlife willingly jumped to her rescue and managed to give Kutelka refuge. They cared for her and fed her for several weeks, and thanks to their hospitality and help, Kutelka recovered.    

In May 2019, the Vultures Back to LIFE team released Kutelka again in the Blue Stones National Park. In August of the same year, Green Balkans staff found her near Panicheri, again exhausted. The Green Balkans Wildlife Rescue Centre assisted in her recovery, and in September 2019, the project team released Kutelika once again in the Blue Stones National Park. 

Kutelka carries out impressive travels

Since her release in September 2019, we are happy to say that Kutelka has successfully continued her travels without any intervention needed. In fact, she carried out impressive travels. From March to June 2021, she covered 16,000 km, crossing several countries along her journey, including Serbia, Croatia, Austria, Slovenia, Hungary and Romania. 

Cinereous Vulture pair: Kutelka and Vrachanski Balkan © Veselin Yankov
Cinereous Vulture pair: Kutelka and Vrachanski Balkan © Veselin Yankov

The best part of the story is that she found a partner! It appears that Kutelka and the Cinereous Vulture Vrachanski Balkan are now a pair. The two vultures already attempted to start a family in the Western Balkan Mountains. We keep our fingers crossed for a second wild Cinereous Vulture hatching in Bulgaria next year!

Vultures Back to LIFE

Led by Green Balkans in collaboration with the Fund for Wild Flora and FaunaVulture Conservation FoundationJunta de Extremadura and Euronatur, the Vultures Back to LIFE project aims to reintroduce the Cinereous or Eurasian Black Vulture to Bulgaria. The team will transfer and release into the wild around 60 birds, some coming from captive-breeding backgrounds but mostly from Spanish wildlife rehabilitation centres. The project will also create supplementary feeding stations, increase populations of wild herbivores, improve nesting conditions and tackle some of the major threats to support the return of the species.

vultures back to life partner funder logos

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