After a long and productive breeding season in captivity, it is time to start releasing young Bearded Vultures into the wild again! The first Bearded Vulture releases of 2022 are just around the corner. It will take place at Cévennes National Park in the Grands Causses, France, and the event is open to the public!
Participate in the first release event of the year
The event will take place on 9 May 2022 at the Camping La Cascade in Salvinsac (commune of Meyrueis), and it will begin at 10 am. It is free and open to all. There is no need to register – participants can just show up on the day.
Parc national des Cévennes will also broadcast the event live on their Instagram account for those who cannot attend.
The first Bearded Vulture releases of 2022
The reintroduction project for the Bearded Vulture in the Grands Causses is celebrating its tenth anniversary! Today, there are 11 Bearded Vultures that have settled in the Grands Causses.
In a few days, the Cévennes National Park will welcome two more Bearded Vultures. The vultures come from the Bearded Vulture Captive Breeding Network, coordinated by us at the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF) on behalf of EAZA’s EEP, which breeds the species for conservation purposes. In captivity, adult Bearded Vultures raise chicks to ensure natural rearing so that they behave like their wild conspecifics, enabling them to breed once they mature and survive in the wild.
Ahead of their release, the LIFE GypConnect project team will also equip the two vultures with GPS transmitters to follow their movements and behaviour in the wild. The team will then hike to a rocky cliff and place the two birds in the hacking platform, where they will get used to their new environment and socialise among themselves until they are ready to fledge and take their first flight into freedom.
Importance of the reintroduction project
Launched in the Grands Causses in 2012, the reintroduction programme has been part of the LIFE GypConnect project since 2015. Each year, the Bearded Vulture EEP allocates 2 to 5 birds for release in the Grands Causses, alternating between Lozère (Commune de Meyrueis) in the Cévennes National Park and in Aveyron (Commune de Nant) in the Grands Causses Regional Natural Park.
This reintroduction programme strengthens the existing Bearded Vulture populations in France. It also promotes bird exchanges (genetic mixing) between the Alps and the Pyrenees. It is, therefore, vital to continue releasing birds to establish breeding colonies in the target areas that will be sustainable in the long run.
The LIFE GypConnect project
Led by the League pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO), the LIFE GypConnect project aims to establish a breeding population of Bearded Vultures in the Massif Central and Department of the Drôme. Releasing captive-bred Bearded Vultures into the wild at sites such as the Parc Naturel Régional des Grands Causses, Parc Naturel Régional des Baronnies Provençales and Parc Naturel Régional du Vercors will create a core population that will connect the two populations of the species in the Alps and Pyrenees. To facilitate movements between the new population and the Alpine and Pyrenean populations the LIFE GYPCONNECT team is creating a network of supplementary feeding stations, and tackling threats such as poisoning, and collision and electrocution with the electricity infrastructure.