In the last 30 years, several vulture reintroduction and enforcement projects were started in Europe. These projects are an important contribution to the recovery of extinct, or almost extinct populations. In 1981, LPO (Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseux) started a reintroduction project for Griffon vulture in Southern France, which has become one of the most succesfull reintroduction projects worldwide.
The Black Vulture Conservation Foundation started in 1984 with the release of Cinereous vultures on the island of Mallorca, where the population had decreased to less than 20 animals and no breeding pairs. According to the latest census, around 125 birds are now again home on Mallorca, with 14 breeding pairs!
In 1992, a reintroduction project for Cinereous vultures was started in France, in cooperation with LPO. In the Grand Causses (Massif Central), where the species became extinct in the early twentieth century, a total of 53 birds were released in the period from 1992 to 2004. Since then, the population is growing naturally and the number of breeding pairs exceeds 20! Since 2004, a second reintroduction project was started in two areas previously identified for release of Griffon vultures, in the French Alps. In all, there are now 34 birds released, and in the spring of 2009 for the first time in 150 years a breeding pair was observed again in this area.
The Foundation for the Conservation of Bearded Vultures (FCBV), now VCF, started a reintroduction project for Bearded vultures in the Alpine region. Four national parks, stretched across the Alpine region at 200-300 km apart, were selected as suitable areas for release of Bearded vultures, and in 1986 the first birds were released in Hohe Tauern National Park in Austria. Hereafter followed Haute Savoie in France, Engadine/Stelvio on the border between Italy and Switzerland, and Mercantour/Alpi Marittime on the border of France and Italy. Since 1997, when the first breeding pair successfully raised a chick in the wild, over 60 wild born vultures fledged, and more than 140 vultures soar again in the Alpine skies. Because of this high success and the experience gained, a new reintroduction project was started in 2005 in Andalucia, Spain.
All these projects are fully successful only when populations reach a demographic balance, where numbers remain stable without the necessity of new introductions. By establishing ‘corridors’, connecting the populations, VCF tries to ensure the expansion of vultures into all suitable habitat in Europe.