Schils, the young bearded vulture released last year in the Swiss Alps, and that was found this month in Holland, has been re-released this weekend back in the Swiss mountains (see photos).
Schils was born last year in La Garenne Zoo (Switzerland), within the bearded vulture captive breeding network coordinated by the VCF for reintroduction projects, and was released in June 2014 in the Calfeisental (Swiss Alps). It spent the whole autumn and winter in the Central Alps, but then in mid-June suddenly left the alpine valleys and flew rapidly to northern Europe. On the 6th June, five days after having left the Swiss Alps, it was found grounded in Holland, after a heavy thunderstorm. The bird was uninjured, and it was brought to recover at Rehab Centre De Bonte Piet, and later at Rehab Centre De Fûgelhelling, where it was very well treated. After all the paper work was secured, their Dutch carers brought Schils back to Switzerland, and the young bearded vulture was released this weekend in the same valley (Melchsee-Frutt) where three other young bearded vultures were released this year (see here).
Bearded vultures can easily survive without food for a week or even longer and young birds do often disperse temporarily away from the mountains, particularly in their first Spring, like in the case Schils, but normally return to the mountains on their own – or with a bit of help, like Schils!
The reintroduction of bearded vultures in the Alps started in 1986, after their extinction in 1913, in an international project coordinated by the VCF. So far 196 birds have been released, and there are now 33 breeding pairs across the Alpine chain, in one of the most remarkable wildlife comebacks in Europe.
The VCF would like to thank Hans Pohlmann, Andries Zijlstra, Jaap Denee, Marije de Heer and Hetty Sinnema for all the effort to rehabilitate and send Schils back to the Alps. Great to see this wonderful international collaboration – this is really the case of together for vultures!
(Photos VCF/Hansruedi Weyrich)