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Released Bearded Vulture Sureau that can no longer fly due to injury has a new mission in life

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Transferring Sureau (c) Pascal Orabi

This spring, the LIFE GypConnect team released Bearded Vulture Sureau in the south of Drôme as part of the efforts to establish a breeding population in the Massif Central and the Pre-Alps. Following the release, the vulture suffered an injury, so the team rescued the bird to receive treatment. Now, after spending months in recovery, Sureau has a new mission in life.

Hatched in captivity and released to the wild

Bearded Vulture Sureau alongside Angèle were the first birds released in France this year as part of the LIFE GypConnect project. Sureau hatched at Schönbrunn Zoo in Vienna, Austria, which is part of the Bearded Vulture Captive Breeding Network, coordinated by the Vulture Conservation Foundation as part of EAZA‘s EEP.  

Both birds travelled a long way to reach the release site for the chance to spend their lives in the wild! The project team released Sureau and Angèle in the Baronnies’ hacking platform on Thursday, 28 May. However, after a few days, Sureau suffered an injury and needed to be rehabilitated.

Recovery process

Following the injury, Vautours en Baronnies retrieved Sureau and transferred the male vulture to Faune Sauvage de Goupil Connexion in the Hérault. There, the Bearded Vulture spent several weeks to make a recovery as Sureau had a fracture on his wing. The vet team performed surgery and held many physiotherapy sessions, and after some time, the fracture on his wing healed. However, Marie-Pierre Puech, the veterinary doctor at the care centre, although the fracture healed, unfortunately, Sureau will never regain the use of his wing and fly. Thus, it will be impossible for the bird to survive in the wild.

New mission in life

At first, Sureau was going to contribute to the reintroduction efforts of the species in the LIFE GypConnect project areas. Now, due to his inability to fly, the bird has a new mission in life, which is still significant. He will join the Bearded Vulture EEP, and hopefully, become a parent one day to produce healthy chicks that might be released to the wild for the possibility to contribute to reintroduction and restocking efforts across Europe!

For the time being, the Haute-Savoie breeding centre, managed by Asters, will temporarily host Sureau until he is transferred to his permanent home. 

We hope Sureau has a long life ahead in captivity and manages to hatch several chicks in the future!

LIFE GypConnect

LEd by the League pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO), the LIFE GYPCONNECT project aims to establish a breeding population of Bearded Vultures in the Massif Central and Department of the Drôme. Releasing captive-bred Bearded Vultures into the wild at sites such as the Parc Naturel Régional des Grands Causses,  Parc Naturel Régional des Baronnies Provençales and Parc Naturel Régional du Vercors will create a core population that will connect the two populations of the species in the Alps and Pyrenees. To facilitate movements between the new population and the Alpine and Pyrenean populations the LIFE GYPCONNECT team is creating a network of supplementary feeding stations, and tackling threats such as poisoning, and collision and electrocution with the electricity infrastructure.

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