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Tamarán, the first ever Canarian Egyptian vulture bred in captivity, flies strong in Fuerteventura

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Ten weeks after its release in Fuerteventura, Tamarán is seemingly well adapted to its wild home – he moves with other Egyptian vultures, in ever wider flights. Tamarán´s movements are being followed because he carries a GPS tag on its back, put by researchers from the Estacion Biologica de Donana-CSIC and from Cabildo de Fuerteventura. This tag gives them data on the bird´s whereabouts. We thus know he has slept on poles, and has been to some cattle grazing estates on the island (see photo, data from José Antonio Donázar, Estacion Biològica Donana-CSIC).

The canary island Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus majorensis), locally known as Guirre, is an endangered subspecies now confined to the islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. Following some conservation effort, led by the Cabildo de Fuerteventura, Estacion Biologica de Donana-CSIC, and others, to insulate electricity pylons and eliminate some lines, the population is now slowly recovering – the 2013 census showed there are now around 230 individuals, and 47 pairs, almost all in Fuerteventura (4 in Lanzarote).

Last year saw also the first ever successful captive breeding of the endemic subspecies – after one decade of failed trials, one of the two pairs in captivity – birds that were recovered severely wounded and cannot be released – managed to lay a fertile egg, that was incubated artificially, and raised by a puppet in the first few weeks, before being reunited with its father. The VCF has given the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, who manages the wildlife rehabilitation center where all this happened, with technical advice – see the details and photos in a news posting below.

Now Tamarán – named after the aboriginal name for Gran Canaria, flies free, and is quickly becoming a celebrity in the archipelago, Last weekend the local authorities from Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria have opened an exhibition about him (see photo).

With a recovering population in Fuerteventura, and with the first success in captive breeding, local authorities and conservationists are also now considering the possibility of attempting the reintroduction of the species into Gran Canaria – from where it has disappeared in the 1980s.

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