Young captive-bred Egyptian vultures become part of the wildlife of Bulgaria

Young captive-bred Egyptian vultures become part of the wildlife of Bulgaria

On August 2, a team of BSPB and Green Balkans placed three young Egyptian vultures hatched in the network of the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) and the Wildlife Rehabilitation And Breeding Centre - Green Balkans in a specially adapted artificial nest, and one fledgling was placed in a wild nest near Madzharovo. Bulgarian experts also relied on colleagues from zoos in Prague and Zlin, who again helped restore the population of this emblematic endangered species in Bulgaria.

The “Egyptian Vulture New LIFE” team tagged the birds with GPS-GSM transmitters to track their movements after release as well as during their first migration.

The team was divided into two groups according to the two release methods. "Hacking” is a term used in conservation biology for the active management of a population and represents the placement of young captive-bred birds in an artificial nest where they will get used to the area and take it as their natural home, gaining wild bird behavior.

The adaption aviary (hack) – a special lightweight construction with a net and a pipe for the food and the water for the vultures, is built in a rock niche inhabited years ago by a pair of Egyptian vultures. In this way, the birds can’t see the people who take care of them. A video surveillance camera is also installed to monitor the behavior of the young vultures that will remain in the hack for about three weeks. Near the artificial nest, there is a feeding station where the young birds can easily find safe food after opening the door of the hack.

The other method is called fostering and is also applied for a second consecutive year. A captive-bred vulture was placed in a wild nest. The nest is carefully selected according to its accessibility, the experience of the parents, the number and age of the juvenile in it.

The pair is subject to constant monitoring and supplementary feeding by the project team, and until now the parents have taken care of both juveniles.

The activity is part of a 5-year experimental program for active management of the critically endangered Egyptian Vulture population in the Balkans in order to increase the breeding success and survival of the young individuals. It is carried out by a team of BSPB and Green Balkans within the framework of the LIFE project "Egyptian Vulture New LIFE", which brings together institutions and organizations from 14 countries spanning the Balkans, Middle East, and Africa. The baby vulture has been donated to the project by Prague Zoo with the assistance of Anton Vaidl - coordinator of the European Endangered Species Programmes (EEP) of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), and with the assistance of VCF.