More Spanish vultures bolster threatened population

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Another 14 vultures have arrived in Cyprus from Spain as part of a population-saving campaign under The LIFE with Vultures project.

The project aims to introduce and release the vultures to help the threatened Cypriot population.

The vultures were placed in a special, spacious aviary in the Limassol district.

They will remain there for 5-6 months to acclimate to the local conditions before being released into the wild.

The Game and Fauna Service will fit GPS transmitters on all birds when released to enable the project team to track their movements and condition or to intervene if they are in danger.

Regarding the vultures released last September, the data on their movements, recorded through satellite transmitters, show that the birds have successfully integrated into the local population, use feeding stations and regularly visit important locations within the species’ known range.

However, there were two losses in the first few days after the release, which was expected to happen to some extent due to their young age.

Introducing birds from other regions to enhance and conserve threatened species is widely accepted and widespread.

However, due to the extremely low number of vultures currently present in Cyprus, the slow reproductive rate of the species, and frequent poisoning incidents from baits, the population of vultures in Cyprus cannot recover without human intervention.

The Cypriot population is predicted to disappear within the next 15 years if targeted conservation actions, such as addressing the use of poisoned baits – the most serious threat to the species – and introducing birds from another country are not implemented.

Spain was chosen as the country that hosts 90-95% of Europe’s vultures, with the population of the Cinereous Vulture numbering 30,000 pairs.

The birds selected for transport to Cyprus were young individuals that hatched in Spain and ended up at the AMUS wildlife hospital due to injury or weakness.

After receiving care and fully recovering, they were chosen for the population enhancement program in Cyprus.