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28 May, 2024
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Another 14 vultures arrive from Spain to supplement Cyprus' dwindling population

The decision to introduce vultures from Spain is significant as the country has 90-95% of Europe's vultures

Source: CNA

Another 14 vultures arrived in Cyprus from Spain on Thursday last week as part of a population-boosting action under The LIFE with Vultures project team.

In a press release, BirdLife Cyprus, the Game and Fauna Service, the Vulture Conservation Foundation and Terra Cypria said the arrival of the vultures is part of The Life with Vultures project and aims to introduce and release the vultures on the island which has an extremely reduced Cypriot population.

The 14 vultures were placed in a special, spacious aviary in the Limassol district where they will remain for 5-6 months in order to acclimatize to the local conditions before being released into the wild, where they belong. The Game and Fauna Service will fit GPS transmitters on all birds when they are released to enable the project team to later 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 known range of the species. However, there were two losses in the first few days after the release, which to some extent was expected to happen due to their young age.

The introduction of birds from other regions to enhance and conserve threatened species is an accepted and widespread practice worldwide. 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.

It is predicted that the Cypriot population will 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.

The decision to introduce vultures from Spain is significant as the country has 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.


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