LIFE Safe for Vultures, the repopulation project in Southern Sardinia, is now in full swing

Sale for Vultures

Another 21 griffon vultures have recently arrived in Porto Torres from Spain to become the main actors of LIFE Safe for Vultures, the project aimed at ensuring the long-term presence and well-being of the griffon vulture population in Sardinia. The individuals - one of which was born in captivity at the Mallorca zoo while the other twenty were found in distress in the wild and then fully rehabilitated in wildlife recovery centers - will participate in the repopulation plan to facilitate the return of the griffons to Southern Sardinia, an area where they historically had a home and played important ecosystem functions for extensive farming, becoming extinct in the post World War II period due to a series of causes.

Departing from the port of Barcelona to the island, the griffons were taken over by the regional agency Forestas, a project partner led by the Department of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Sassari and involving the Regional Forestry and Environmental Surveillance Corps of Sardinia, E-Distribuzione, and the Vulture Conservation Foundation. The staff at the Bonassai Wildlife Recovery Center in Sassari welcomed and housed the animals in the "quarantine" aviaries, putting an end to a journey lasting over 48 hours. The Forestas veterinary team, coordinated by Marco Muzzeddu and Lucio Mandas, will assess the health status of the griffins after transportation, ensuring an appropriate observation and recovery period before organizing their transfer to the acclimatization aviary in Villasalto, in Gerrei, where another 16 specimens are located and will soon be released, forming the nucleus of the colony in Southern Sardinia. In a few months, those who arrived yesterday will also join them, thus contributing to the establishment of an action that the project partners consider essential for the repopulation of the griffon vulture in the entire island, replicating the excellent results achieved in the northwestern quadrant, between Bosa and Alghero, thanks to LIFE Under Griffon Wings.

The 21 griffon vultures consist of 7 males and 14 females, all young individuals born in 2023. Their rehabilitation generally follows various incidents driven by inexperience and disorientation. The animals were cared for and rehabilitated at the Amus center in Villafranca de los Barros, in the province of Badajoz, in the autonomous community of Extremadura. The Vulture Conservation Foundation, an NGO dedicated to the conservation of European vulture species, with expertise in captive breeding, reintroduction, and protection of vultures in their natural habitat, has been in contact with this important center, as well as with others with whom there are stable relationships of collaboration and exchanges in Germany, the Netherlands, Turkey, and other countries. Adding to this group will be a griffon vulture born in captivity in France, which has been at Bonassai for several weeks already.

The Villasalto aviary "was built taking into account years of experience and improvements, to allow for continuous monitoring of the animals and reduce the stress caused by captivity," explains Dionigi Secci, Forestas representative for the project. "The choice of the area involved careful study and evaluation of the most suitable area, which took into account the historical research on the species distribution in Sarrabus-Gerrei and collected direct testimonies about the main causes of their disappearance." From these foundations, the more ambitious project LIFE Safe for Vultures starts, aiming to bring the griffon vulture back to territories from which it disappeared decades ago, involving local communities in this process. Villasalto has thus become the epicenter of one of the project's crucial operations, in which the partners have carried out all the preliminary actions necessary to mitigate the risks that had caused the disappearance of the griffon. Both in the scientific community and in the local population, anticipation grows for the opening of the aviary, planned for next month. For Professor Fiammetta Berlinguer of the Department of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Sassari, scientific coordinator of the project, "LIFE Safe for Vultures is now gaining momentum, we are about to take a very important step towards the return of the griffon vulture throughout the island."

Gian Mario Sias
Communication manager for Life Safe for Vultures - LIFE19_NAT_IT_000732