100 years after going extinct in the Alps, the bearded vulture is now back to the alpine skies – 30 established territories and a record number (16!) of wild-born fledged young in 2013, in one of the most celebrated and spectacular wildlife comebacks in recent decades in Europe.
What many do not realise is that at the base of this spectacular result is a dedicated network of organisations, staff, bird curators and volunteers, working in 30+ Zoos, animal parks and specialized breeding canters, working incessantly with a captive stock of birds to maximize captive breeding.
This network, organised in a European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), is coordinated by the VCF. The latest annual report (2013) for all this work is now out – you can download it below.
In 201334 bearded vulture pairs in the EEP laid a total of 55 eggs, which resulted in 19 surviving juveniles. 13 of these were released in the 3 on-going reintroduction projects (Alps, Grands Causses & Andalucia), and 4 were added to the breeding network. Six new pairs were established in 2013, while 6 birds in the EEP died, mostly of old age.
All this is a result of total dedication of many hundreds of persons. Captive breeding is a full time job that requires attention 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. It is often an unsung, poorly understood component of the whole history – you can see some images of what it is all about in this short film here, shot by Enrico Gombala at the specialized bearded vulture captive breeding center in Haringsee (Austria). This story repeats itself, day in, day out, at all the 30+ EEP zoos and centers.
The VCF would like to thank all of these, and their staff and volunteers, for this great collaborative work. Without them, the bearded vulture would not be flying high above the alpine peaks, the gorges of the Grands Causses, and the craggy peaks of Cazorla. Thank you very much!