The latest release of Griffon Vultures as part of the restocking of the population of the species on Sardinia as part of LIFE Under Griffon Wings project.
Restocking the population of Griffon Vultures in Sardinia
The release of 11 birds on Tuesday 11 December 2018 brings to an end a successful year of restocking the population of Griffon Vultures found in Sardinia. Over the last year 38 birds from rehabilitation centres in Spain and from zoos across Europe have been released into the wild, 14 in April, 12 in September and this month the Forestas Agency released the final 11 birds in Monte Minerva.
The birds released in Sardinia were transported from Spain by us here at the Vulture Conservation Foundation earlier in 2018 and spent time at a quarantine period in the Bonassai Wildlife Recovery Center before adapting to their new environment at an acclimatisation aviary at the release site of Monte Minerva.
These efforts will continue over 2019 with the aim of releasing a total of 60 birds into the wild in Sardinia to strengthen the population of Griffon Vultures on the island.
As well as releasing Griffon Vultures this month, the LIFE Under Griffon Wings carried out a day of public awareness on the topic of wildlife poisoning attracting around 200 people and representatives from local organisations as well as the Mayor of Sassari. The day involved launching a campaign to raise awareness about the risks of wildlife poisoning with the help of students and young people during a conference, a demonstration of the island’s Anti-Poison Canine Unit and a round table discussion with governmental and non-governmental organisations. At the end of the round table discussion regional law proposal was presented for Sassari. This work is essential to tackle the single largest factor affecting Griffon Vultures on Sardinia that is still killing birds on the island.
Griffon Vultures in Sardinia
Distributed over the whole island up to the late 1940s with an estimated population of 800 – 1200 individuals, the population of Griffon Vultures in Sardinia dropped rapidly after the Second World War until the outlawing of poisoned baits in 1977. Now the species is restricted to the north-western part of the island and during a 2013 survey consisted of just 30 territorial pairs and 130 individuals. A survey in 2018 suggested that the population is slowly increasing to around 50 breeding pairs
LIFE Under Griffon Wings
Led by Sassari University, the LIFE Under Griffon Wings project aims to improve the conservation status of Griffon Vultures through a number of actions. These involve; carrying out an extensive restocking programme to enhance the small population by translocating between 45 and 60 birds from wildlife rehabilitation centers in Spain to Sardinia. Improving food availability by establishing a network of farm feeding stations around Prigionette and Monte Minerva managed by a unique consortium of around 50 livestock owners from the Nurra area and the Veterinary Service of the Local Health Authority. Establishing an anti-poison canine unit and developing a communication actions to raise awareness on the threat caused by the illegal use of poisoned baits.