A month and a half after 15 Spanish vultures were released into the Cypriot countryside and news on Saturday were more than positive.
They are adapting well and have successfully integrated into the local population, according to an announcement by the “LIFE with Vultures” project team.
The team has been closely monitoring the vultures – both through the GPS transmitters and in the field.
“Movement data derived from the GPS transmitters that the vultures carry on their backs show that the birds are adapting well and have successfully integrated into the local population,” it said.
“This is very encouraging and what we were hoping for. Unfortunately, a few days following release, we had two losses, which to some extent was to be expected due to the birds’ inexperience and young age,” it added.
After being released, the Spanish vultures initially remained close to the release site, making short flights and returning to nearby cliffs to roost at night.
Moreover, they were regularly visiting the feeder located right next to the acclimatization cage where they had spent the previous 10 months.
The vultures of the local population are now consisting of Cypriot and Cretan birds that were released seven to nine years ago and their offspring.
They had regularly visited the area until the first Spanish vultures followed them to new areas.
The project team had noted that during the first couple of weeks some of the Spanish vultures were seen flying near to the Oreites wind farm or in areas with a recent poisoning incident.
And that others were seen landing on roads or roosting on electricity pylons.
In some cases, the Game and Fauna Service had to intervene to check on birds in the field or to move them to a safer location. The two losses were due to drowning and electrocution.
The 13 Spanish vultures regularly visit important locations within the known vulture range, such as the southern edges of the Paphos Forest, rural areas of Limassol district such as Sotira, Paramali, Kyvides, Pachna and Dora, as well as the area around Episkopi within the British Bases.
“So the overall picture is very encouraging,” the team also said.