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Updates from the Vultures Back To LIFE reintroduced Cinereous Vultures

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The forming couple between the male Balkan and female VCF-Know how

The Cinereous Vultures that were reintroduced in Bulgaria as part of the Vultures Back To LIFE project have been having many adventures in Bulgaria and abroad!

Ultron, Barnabie and Ostrava-2, released in 2019

The three vultures released earlier this year through the hacking method – two from the hack in Kotel (Ultron and Barnabie) and one from Sinite kamani (Ostrava-2) have fledged successfully, and by the11th of November, they started their autumn migration together. In the first week of their migration, they travelled around 120 km west-southwest, and after some days staying north of Plovdiv due to rainy weather, they moved back to the Sliven area. They stayed there for a few days again due to rainy periods and kept together until 25 November 2019. Then Barnabie lost the group and the next day, the Green Balkans captured it with a broken wing, weighing 6.1 kilos. It is now under vet supervision and care in Green Balkans Wildlife Center in Stara Zagora.

Ultron and Ostrava-2 continued their journey together and visited the Eastern Rhodopes where they got in contact with local vultures near Madjarovo. But one day later the two birds lost each other and Ultron started exploring Eastern Rhodopes. On 2 December, the bird discovered the feeding site in Dadia (Greece), where the last and only Cinereous Vulture colony in the Balkans still exists.  

Ostrava-2 continued its journey southeast and after crossing the Dardanelles, visited Lesbos island and now reached mainland Turkey, and is currently north of Izmir.

Riga and Boyan, released in 2018 

Riga is an adventurous bird that was released by the hacking mehtod in Kotel in 2018. After her long migration from the Alps returning to the Balkans, Riga reached Messolonghi in southwest Greece where the bird was spotted with another adult Cinereous Vulture. 

Boyan that was released by hacking in Kotel in 2018 has chosen to overwinter near the Cankari in Turkey, north of Ankara. 

Potential breeding?

All the other Cinereous Vultures are doing well and are permanently present in Kotel and Sliven. The Vultures Back To LIFE team is continually observing the first signs of a breeding behaviour between the male Balkan and female VCF Know-how, but with some competition by another male – Zlosten that is pretending to pair with VCF Know-how.

Vultures Back To LIFE 

Led by the wildlife conservation charity Green Balkans, with activities also implemented by the Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna, and bringing together partners from Bulgaria, Spain, Germany, and us here at the VCF, Vultures Back to LIFE aims to reintroduce the cinereous or Eurasian black vulture to Bulgaria. The team will transfer and release around 60 birds, some from captive-breeding, but mostly coming from wildlife rehabilitation centres in Extremadura (Spain) into the wild in Bulgaria as well as creating supplementary feeding stations and improving populations of wild herbivores, improving the nesting conditions and creating artificial nest sites and tackling some of the major threats to vultures in the country such as insulating electricity pylons and illegal use of poison in the nature.

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