Six black vultures (Aegypius monachus) were transported this weekend by a team from VCF from south and western Spain to southern France, where they will be released as part of the ongoing reintroduction project.
The birds are all wild born, and originate in Spain – the black vulture population has been increasing in this country and totals now more than 2,000 pairs, mostly in Extremadura and Andalusia. These birds were found tired, exhausted and/or wounded, and were received in rehabilitation centers in Extremadura (Los Hornos), and in Andalusia (Cordoba, Jaen and Huelva).
Following a request from the French authorities to the Spanish ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment, the regional government of Extremadura and Andalusia decided to collaborate, and reserved the black vultures that have entered their rehabilitation centers for the French reintroduction project. The VCF quickly set up the whole operation to get all the legal documentation and organise the transport of the birds.
Black vultures went extinct in France more than 100 years ago, but a reintroduction project started in the early 90s in the Grands Causses. There 53 individuals were released between 1992 and 2004, both from wild origin (rehabilitation centers in Spain) and also from captive breeding.
In 2004 black vultures started to be released in two other release sites, in the southern Alps – in Baronnies and in the gorges du Verdon. The French projects are led by the NGOs “Association Vautours en Baronnies”, and LPO PACA, and are carried out within the framework of the National Action Plan for the recovery of the Black vulture population in France (2011-2016), prepared by LPO and supported by the France ministry.There are now more than 28 breeding pairs of black vultures at the three release sites, and while releases will continue for some time, the prospects for the new black vulture breeding population are very good – yet another great wildlife comeback in Europe, only made possible by a joint, solid cross border collaboration between the French and the Spanish ministries, the Juntas de Extremadura and Andalusia and NGOs like the VCF, Association Vautours en Baronnies, LPO, and the Black Vulture Conservation Foundation.
The six vultures transported this weekend fared well during the 1400km long road trip, and are now acclimatizing themselves in large aviary, and will be released over the next three years. See photos below – all photos by VCF.