The fate of the captive-bred Egyptian vultures released this year in Bulgaria

The fate of the captive-bred Egyptian vultures released this year in Bulgaria

Three young Egyptian Vultures were released this spring through the delayed release method. Unfortunately, one of them – Sharka was killed by a fox only a few days after the release, while the other two – Andi and Fer adapted well to the local conditions.

Andi was the first to move south. He was born last year in Vienna Zoo and was released this spring in the Eastern Rhodopes. After a few months spent roaming over his new homeland, Andi decided that the time has come and faced the unknown. He crossed through the Bosphorus and passed over Sarimazi even before the official start of the annual migration count. Andi has reached Egypt and spends some time on the Sinai peninsula.

Fer was born and raised in Jerez Zoo, Spain. He is still in the Eastern Rhodopes near the release site but already made a short excursion to the Dardanelles. He is still feeding at the feeding station and building up muscles and fat so much needed for the exhausting 4000 km journey to the wintering grounds.

Three birds were released as fledglings from a hack in Eastern Rhodopes this summer – Lenka (from Prague Zoo), Romana (born in Zlin Zoo) and Nikola-Spasimir (born in WRBC, Bulgaria). Unfortunately, we had another big loss after Romana died due to collision with a powerline soon after the release. Young individuals are more prone to such incidents like electrocution and collision due to the lack of experience and good flight skills. Lenka and Nicola-Spasimir fledged soon after Romana and on their turn had to overcome all the challenges which fledglings have, but our team was always there to support them in the toughest moments!  

One day Nikola-Spasimir climbed up to the highest rock and after a farewell glide over the hack he gave start to his journey. He moved west from Eastern Rhodopes and soon found himself in North Macedonia; only a day later he was already in Albania and still flying west. The field team of PPNEA managed to see him near his roost and enjoy his magnificent flight. However, Nikola didn’t take advantage of the local hospitality and did not feed on the food provided but instead moved further west until reaching the Adriatic coast. Facing water he finally turned south and started a long journey towards the southernmost tip of Greece at the Peloponnese Peninsula. About 400 km of open water were standing between him and the safe African shore but he didn’t know that the way is so long! After a night rest, he made a first attempt over the sea but quickly returned back. We were just about to celebrate his wise decision but Nikola was too decided and made a second but fatal attempt to cross the endless sea. We lost his signal 70 km offshore and were deeply saddened by his tragic end……“at least he tasted the freedom” someone would say.

Lenka was the last one still remaining near the hacking site. She was eagerly taking advantage of all food provided nearby and after fueling up the tank she started moving south on 09/09. She was a bit hesitant when reaching the Dardanelles but the tailwinds helped her to cross the strait. She followed the Turkish shore for a while and then decided to see how it would be on an island. She is now jumping from island to island and we keep all our fingers crossed that she will not continue this risky way but instead will go inland and migrate over the safer route around the sea. Our teams are already waiting for her at Sarimazi and she should not disappoint.

Hedjet and Oriana – these are two birds with different origins but who shared a common nest for some time. Hedjet was raised by a wild pair in the Eastern Rhodopes and Oriana is coming from captivity. She was born in the Wildlife Rehabilitation and Breeding Center in Bulgaria but placed in the wild nest and raised by foster parents. Both chicks immediately liked each other and became inseparable. However, Hedjet was older and his time to go south came earlier. He moved from his natal nest and is now near the Bosphorus. Have a safe flight brave Hedjet and wait for your sister somewhere in the warm African savannah. Oriana is still near the nest but actively practicing her flight abilities and preparing for the big journey.