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A species gone extinct from the Balkans is breeding at the Wildlife Rescue Centre

A species gone extinct from the Balkans is breeding at the Wildlife Rescue Centre

05.04.2016
A Bearded Vulture has hatched in the aviary of the Wildlife Rescue Centre of Green Balkans. The species has been considered extinct from Bulgaria for over 60 years and it has later disappeared from the entire Balkans.
The parents of our chick are birds, imported from Austria, through the kind cooperation of the specialized breeding centre Rihard Faust, back in 2007. For nine long years the team of Green Balkans has been patiently expecting the happy occasion. Nine years of keeping the young birds at the Centre.
Bulgaria is the first European country which managed to breed Bearded Vultures in captivity. A single pair kept in Sofia Zoo managed to raise a total of 11 chicks between 1916 – 1927. At that time the species was still nesting into the wild, until about 1962 when the last dead bird was found near Sliven. Since then, our Bearded Vultures have been the only ones of their kind in Bulgaria.
Our chick, at only 150 grams, symbolizes the efforts of generations of nature conservationalists aiming at restoring the species.
As the hatching time took longer than usual, the team of Green Balkans, under the guidance of world-renown Bearded Vulture experts – Dr. Alex Llopis and Dr. Hans Frey, took the pipped egg and hatched it in a specially set incubator. Once its gains strength, we will try to return the baby to its parents. If they manage to take care of it, we will leave it with them. If not, there is an imprinted male, trained to be a foster father, which will hopefully adopt it in Austria.
Still so vulnerable, the faith of the baby vulture is just as uncertain. The only thing we know is that it is a part of the Bearded Vulture Endangered Species Programme (EEP) so it will leave us and Bulgaria. In case it turns out to be a strong, active male, it has the chance to travel to Hohe Tauern, Austria, to be released for the tenth anniversary of the start of the successful Bearded Vulture release programme there. In case the baby is a female, she will probably stay within the captive programme of EEP, because of the important bloodline of her parents. In order to avoid inbreeding, the chick will still leave Bulgaria, to look for a non-related male in the other breeding centres or zoos. Unfortunately, it is too early to proceed to releasing in Bulgaria and if we did so, the chick would have very slim chances to survive all alone. This is why we are counting on the experience and support of the international experts, who have been working on the species for years and have managed to successfully restore it in the Alps, the Pyrenees and recently in Andalucia, Spain. This is why the network of specialized breeding centres has been established in order to coordinate the release of a larger number of birds at the same place. Due to the large success, achieved in the Alps and France, in several years we expect that the network would concentrate its efforts on Bulgaria and the restoration of the symbol of Bulgarian nature conservation.
So, do keep fingers crossed for our first baby Bearded Vulture!!
We can currently congratulate ourselves with this tremendous success and even though there are people who destroy, there are also people who restore. We are so glad that we are among the second ones and we would like to cordially thank all colleagues and friends for their trust and patience!