Rüppel’s Griffon Vulture wing tagged in Portugal

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By Alfonso Godino & Catarina Machado

The Rüppell’s Griffon Vulture (Gyps ruppellii) is an endangered species with a decreasing population trend, and included in the IUCN Red List as Near Threatened (IUCN, 2012). It occurs in sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal, Gambia and Mali in the west to Sudan, Ethiopia and some regions in Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique.

Since the 90s, the rüppell’s griffon vulture has been recorded a few times in the Iberian Peninsula,usually associated with the return of wintering Eurasian Griffon Vultures’ (Gyps fulvus) population from Africa (Ramírez et al., 2011). Recently there has been an increasing number of sightings, also including breeding behaviour (Costa et al., 2003).

There is no accurate information about the population size of this species in the Iberian Peninsula, and movement patterns, or if they ever return to Africa.

On June 7th 2013, a starved rüppell’s griffon vulture was captured in Moura, southern Portugal. After being fed, the vulture was tagged with green wing tags and white KH code and released in the protected area of Moura-Mourão-Barrancos.

This is the first rüppell’s griffon vulture tagged in Portugal with wing tags (in 1998 another one was ringed and release from a rescue centre in north Portugal, N. Santos com. pes.) and only the third in Europe (two other birds were wing-tagged in south and eastern Spain, A. Onrubia and A. Seguí, com. pes).

The action is a part of the LIFE+ project “ Innovation Against Poison”, carried out in 8 pilot areas of Portugal, Spain and Greece. In the Portuguese pilot area of Moura-Mourão-Barrancos, we expect to tag 100 scavengers birds, considered as bioindicators of poison use. 

We acknowledge the following Portuguese authorities that aided in this tagging: SEPNA patrol in Moura (Wildlife Protection Patrol from the National Republican Guard), ICNF (Institute for Nature and Forest Conservation) and CEMPA (Centre for Migration Study and bird Protection).

Bibliography

Costa H, Bolton M, Matias R, Moore CC, Tomé R. 2003. Aves de ocorrência rara ou accidental em Portugal. Relatório do Comité Portugués de Raridades referente aos anos de 1999, 2000 e 2001. Anuário Ornitológico 1: 3–35.

Ramírez, J., Muñoz, A.R., Onrubia, A., de la Cruz, A., Cuenca, D., González, J.M. and Arroyo, G.M. 2011. Spring movements of Rüppell’s Griffon Vulture Gyps ruppellii across the Strait of Gibraltar. Ostrich, 82 (1):71-73.

For more info please contact Alfonso Godino: alfonsogodino@gmail.com

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