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What have the LIFE GYPCONNECT Bearded Vultures been up to since their release into the wild?

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Mistral with his news friends (c) Alain Hérault.
Mistral with his news friends (c) Alain Hérault.

This year, as a result of a brilliant breeding season, we released a total of nine Bearded Vultures into the wild of France under the LIFE GYPCONNECT project. Let’s see how the vultures are coping in their new homes!

Connecting populations

One of the aims of the LIFE GYPCONNECT project is to reintroduce a population of Bearded Vultures into the Massif Central mountain range and the French pre-Alps to connect the reintroduced population in the Alps with the population in the Pyrenees.

The LIFE GYPCONNECT Bearded Vulture Release Season 2019 released  three birds in the Parc Naturel Régional des Grands Causses on Saturday 6 Maytwobirds in Parc Naturel Régional du Vercors on Saturday 18 May, two birds in the Parc Naturel Régional des Baronnies Provençales on Saturday 25May and two birds in the Parc Naturel Régional des Grands Causses on 3 June.

Europe, Lausa and Monna

Europe, Lausa and Monna are the three vultures that launched this year’s Bearded Vulture Release Season! LIFE GYPCONNECT released Europe, Lausa and Monna at the age of 97, 91 and 87 days respectively on 6 May 2019 at the Parc naturel régional des Grands Causses. The so-called hacking technique that has been successfully implemented for decades was used. The technique involves placing a bearded vulture chick in an artificial nest in a wild site, and the chick is fed and monitored, without human contact, until the young bird has fledged and leaves the release site.

After ten days, the birds seemed to have settled in. Europe, the only male and the eldest, took over the aviary, while his younger sister Lausa was the timidest, and the youngest of them all Monna showed a strong character! A curious visitor, Arcana, also dropped by who is a female Bearded Vulture that was released in 2017 at Aveyron. As the days passed by, the cohabitation of the three birds was getting easier and smoother. Once they opened the aviary, Europe was the first to take flight and now flights several times a day for a few minutes at a time with excellent catches of altitude. Lausa and Monna were exploring their new surroundings for a few days before attempting to fly. They now take short flights with less ease than their older brother, still controlling their flights rather well, with their landing experiencing some complications.

Mistral and Elvio

Mistral (c) PNRV

Following the release of Europe, Lausa and Monna, two more Bearded Vultures were released. This time, two young male birds called Mistral and Elvio were reintroduced at Parc naturel régional du Vercors on 18 May. They quickly settled in and started to get along. Even though the vultures faced some bad weather – rain, fog and cold – they endured it. They would compete in the morning and evening to remind each other who is the strongest, but Mistral always won. Still, Elvio kept trying. On 20 June, the park guards opened the aviary, and Mistral quickly left! Mistral was excited to give flying a go and his first flight was short but still brilliant! The guards opened the aviary again, and Elvio was keen to get a taste of freedom! On 27 June, Elvio took his first flight and landed at the same place as Mistral during his first flight!

Carmen and Pamela

Just like in 2017, the breeding season in captivity proved excellent this year as well. These great results allowed Vautours en Baronnies to obtain two young vultures and release them in the wild. The additional release of the two female Bearded Vultures for the LIFE GYPCONNECT project took place on 25 May at the Parc Naturel Régional des Baronnies Provençales, and even though there was no formal presentation, the event attracted a small crowd to wish the birds well. After the presentation, the two birds were transported to the release site where they quickly became acquainted with their new surroundings. We should get to see them fly soon – by the end of June!

Buisson and Cévennes

Buisson (c) Florian Buisson

After the surprise release of Carmen and Pamela, the final release of young birds in the LIFE GYPCONNECT project took place on Friday 3 June at the Parc Naturel Régional des Grands Causses. Despite the bad weather, the two birds settled into their release site and their new surroundings very quickly. They also had some curious visitors, including Bearded Vulture Kirsi who was released at the same site in 2013. Buisson and Cévennes are now accustomed to one another. They feed well and flap their wings quite often. Buisson has a limp on his left paw, but that does not stop him from using it and seems to be getting better every day.  Cévennes is a tad timid, but he steps up when he needs to, repelling the vultures that try to get a share from their food!

Releasing nine birds in this one year alone brings the total released as part of this conservation project to 27,  is a great result for the project that and we would like to thank all our partners in the captive breeding network for helping us make this a success.

This year we will have released 22 captive-bred birds into the wild, our best Bearded Vulture Release Season to date.

You can follow all of the releases by following #BeardedVultureReleaseSeason on Twitter,Facebook and Instagram.


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 Régi
onal 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.

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