News

Griffon Vultures free in the Balkan Mountains!

Griffon Vultures free in the Balkan Mountains!

28.10.2010
The team of the “Vultures Return in Bulgaria” Project, funded by the LIFE instrument of the European Community would like to congratulate all nature-lovers and enthusiasts with the historic moment of the first coordinated release of Griffon Vultures in the Balkan Mountains.
An official Patron of the event was the Vice-president of Bulgaria - gen. Angel Marin.

Special address for the event was made also from Janez Potocnik, European Commissioner for the Environment!

Before the release, there were 56 Griffon Vultures in the four aviaries of Vrachanski Balkan, Central Balkan, Sliven and Kotel, secured by the Vulture Conservation Foundation, Mallorca, Spain; Zoo Zlin, the Czech Republic; as well as the Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna. Two of the birds are long-term inhabitants of the Wildlife Rescue Centre at Green Balkans – Stara Zagora.

On October 27th the doors of the four aviaries were simultaneously open, so that 26 of the birds can choose when to leave the pens. The rest 30 birds will remain in the aviaries, as they arrived only in June and need additional time to acclimatize and adapt. In addition to that, we are hoping that the remaining vultures will attract the released birds in the area, so that they can be regularly fed and observed by the project team.

At the centre of the media attention was the adaptation aviary in the Sinite kamani Nature Park, where more than 60 kids, together with representatives of the Vulture Conservation Foundation, Mallorca, Span; the District Governor of Sliven – Mr. Kavrakov, the Director of RIEW Stara Zagora – Ms. Penka Nacheva and many other official guests, friends and nature-lovers released two preliminary prepared Griffon Vultures and opened the door of the aviary for the other five that need to leave the pens near Sliven.

At the end of the day it became clear that there are already 7 Griffons into the wild – one left on its own the aviary in Vrachanski Balkan, observed by our colleagues from the Birds of Prey Protection Society, two were released in Sliven and four other birds have been freed near Kotel, by our colleagues from the Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna. We are looking forward to the moment when the rest of the birds will decide to leave!

All Griffon Vultures released within the project are marked with yellow PVC wing-tags with a unique combination of black letters and numbers fixed to both their wings, easy to see when the bird is in flight or perched. Each vulture is also wearing a yellow plastic ring with number matching the number of the wing tags. In addition to that, 7 of the vultures will carry special radio-transmitters and a prototype GPS transmitter, developed by Green Balkans and Elektroninvest Ltd to allow for tracking their movement and dispersal in the wild. Therefore all these birds will be easy to identify in the wild.

After the release in Sliven, all guests returned to launch the First Griffon Vulture Festival in the centre of the town. Tens of citizens and guests of Sliven received informational materials, saw real-size vulture dummies, feathers and eggs, while the youngest participants coloured and drew vultures.

We are grateful to Elitsa Kindergarten for the wonderful programme they had prepared for the opening, for the smiles and high spirit they brought to our information stand.

We are grateful to our colleagues from the Vulture Conservation Foundation for securing the birds and our long-term collaboration.

We are grateful to our hosts from the Sinite kamani Nature Park, for their great help with the organization and implementation of the release. We are also grateful to the tens of volunteers and friends of Green Balkans who assisted the people at the information stands, sang and danced with the kids!

For further information, please contact:
Elena Kmetova – Project Manager - +359 885 219557, е-mail: ekmetova@greenbalkans.org
.