Will Egyptian Vultures breed in Sardinia again?

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Egyptian Vulture carrying nesting materials in Sardinia 2020 (c) LIFE Under Griffon Wings

Once a rare visitor to Sardinia, with no breeding records, now an Egyptian Vulture pair is breeding on the island for the first time. Last year, two individuals settled at the Porto Conte in Sardinia during spring, and in autumn of the same year, an Egyptian Vulture chick hatched! Given that there is no historical breeding records of Egyptian Vultures in Sardinia and that there are only 10-13 pairs of these species known around Italy in Sicily, Calabria and Basilicata, this outcome represents a glimmer of hope for this threatened species! Now, there are signs that the pair will breed again in 2020. Let’s hope it will!

What attracted Egyptian Vultures to Sardinia?

An Egyptian Vulture feeding in Sardinia last spring (c) LIFE Under Griffon Wings

The Egyptian Vulture settlement in Sardinia show that the measures adopted for the protection of vultures by the LIFE Under Griffon Wings team have favoured positive effects on the whole community of scavenging birds. In particular, the feeding stations established, and the cooperation among various stakeholders effectively mitigated food shortages and increased the attractiveness of Sardinia for vultures. The project also reduced the human presence and disturbance, improving the park conditions for the vultures. A way they mitigated disturbance was by creating observation stations at Porto Conte to allow park visitors to observe the Griffon Vultures without producing a negative impact as well as informed an ethical photography code of contact to respect nesting sites. These actions resulted in the presence of the two Egyptian Vultures as well as the three territorial Griffon Vulture pairs where two of those nesting pairs had not been recorded in several years.

First ‘Sardinian’ Egyptian Vulture

Egyptian Vulture Primo in flight (c) Federico Nurchi

Last summer, the first ever ‘Sardinian’ Egyptian Vulture chick hatched in the cliffs of Punta Cristallo in Alghero. Its parents that settled on the island just a few months ago that spring, managed to successfully hatch a chick that also fledged in autumn. Baptised ‘Primo’, meaning first in Italian, the news of the first Egyptian Vulture chick brought a lot of joy to conservationists and gave new hope for this threatened species in Italy.

Signs of new Egyptian Vulture nesting in 2020

The LIFE Under Griffon Wings project observed behaviour suggesting that the nesting period of the Egyptian Vulture pair already began this year. The team also photographed a member of the pair carrying material to help construct their nest. We will follow the progress of this breeding pair, and hopefully report some exciting news soon! 

LIFE Under Griffon Wings

Led by Sassari University, the LIFE Under Griffon Wings project aims to improve the conservation status of Griffon Vultures. Their conservation efforts include improving food availability and establishing a network of farm feeding stations that are managed by the livestock breeders themselves. Furthermore, forming an anti-poison dog unit and developing communication actions to raise awareness on the threat caused by the illegal use of poisoned baits as well as carrying out an extensive restocking programme to enhance the small population by translocating around 60 birds from wildlife rehabilitation centres in Spain to Sardinia.

The Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF) supports this important conservation project which was developed by the University of Sassari in partnership with the Municipality of Bosa, the Forestry Agency and the Corpo Forestale di Vigilanza Ambientale. The project is implemented in collaboration with the regional Departments of Environmental Protection and Health, the Regional Natural Park of Porto Conte, the Instituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale of Sardinia.

The VCF secures and transports the Griffon Vultures from Spain, and up until now, provided a total of 65 birds, fulfilling the requirements of the project. 

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