In the coming days, the first vultures will arrive by plane from Spain, which will support the extremely reduced population of the species in Cyprus, according to an announcement by BirdLife Cyprus.
The introduction of vultures is part of the "Life with Vultures" program, which aims to prevent the extinction of the Gyps Fulvus from the island and at the same time to strengthen its population and maintain it for years to come.
Today, the Cypriot population of Gyps is around 18-20, of which only 2-3 pairs reproduce successfully. Due to the extremely small number of vultures that Cyprus now has, the slow reproduction of the species and the poisoning by nests, the population can not recover without human intervention. In fact, it is predicted that the Cypriot population will disappear within the next 15 years, if targeted conservation measures are not implemented, such as tackling the use of poisoned baits, which is the most serious threat to the species, and strengthening the population by importing birds from another country.
Through the "Life with Vultures" program, about 25 Vultures will be introduced so that local numbers will increase to at least 45 birds by the end of the program (2023). At the same time, the program will implement actions to address the threats and, above all, to reduce the use of poisoned baits in the open, which is the main cause of the extinction of this species on the island. Upon their arrival, the Vultures will remain in a specially designed acclimatization cage in the Game and Fauna Service for 3-4 months, before being released into nature to join the Cypriot population. Transmitters will be placed in all the birds to monitor their movements and for the timely rescue intervention in case a bird is in danger.
The birds will be imported from Spain as the country hosts 90-95% of Europe's vultures, with the Fire Vulture population numbering 30,000 pairs. Importing birds from other areas to support populations is an accepted and widespread practice around the world with the aim of rescuing endangered species. Strengthening the Gyps population by importing birds from other areas has been done successfully in the past. The majority of the couples that nest today in Cyprus are birds that were introduced to our island from Crete through an earlier effort within the GYPAS project (2012- 2014).
The vultures that will arrive on our island will be welcomed by the partners of the "Life with Vultures" program as well as representatives of departments, services and other involved bodies in a short reception event in the warehouses of Airtrans Aviation at the old Larnaca airport on Friday, November 19 at 17:30.
You can read more about the conservation program at www.lifewithvultures.eu.