Record numbers of 20 pairs of the Cinereous Vulture and over 200 of the Griffon Vulture in Bulgaria in 2024

The more, the better…


Listed as extinct as early as 1985 in the Red Book of Bulgaria and still in the same way in the 2011 edition, and without a single breeding pair until 2021, the Cinereous Vulture in 2024 already has a national population of 18- 20 pairs. Of these, 15-17 pairs, of which at least 10 laid eggs, are in the two reintroduced by Green Balkans, FWFF and BPPS colonies – Vrachanski Balkan/Ponor and Eastern Balkan Mountains (Sliven/Kotel). Newly formed two-three pairs were also reported for the Eastern Rhodopes, where a project for the local reintroduction of the species is also underway (BSPB/BirdLife Bulgaria, 2024), but there the birds are still young, and reproduction still has not taken place. With these numbers, the Bulgarian reintroduced population of the species now accounts for 1/3 of the Balkan Peninsula’s one (added to the autochthonous remnant colony in Dadia, Greece, accounting for 30-35 pairs).

During the current breeding period, the Griffon Vulture has a record number in the autochthonous colonies in the Eastern Rhodopes of 138 pairs (BSPB/BirdLife Bulgaria, 2024), but also the reintroduced colonies in Vrachanski Balkan – 27-30, Eastern Balkan Mountains – 28-31 and Kresna 9-10 pairs. Thus, the national population exceeds the psychological threshold of 200 pairs and is now in the range of 202-209 pairs. The proportion of 1/3 of the national population of the Griffon Vulture is maintained to be directly due to the local reintroductions in the Balkan Mountains and Kresna, which was initiated and carried out by the consortium of Green Balkans, FWFF and BBPS, but certainly some of the released birds have also settled in the Eastern Rhodopes and North Macedonia and Greece, where they strengthened the local colonies and which in turn gave individuals to the new ones. In addition, during their roaming, birds from the autochthonous colonies of the Balkan Peninsula often stop and stay for some time in the newly created cores in the Balkan Mountains and Kresna, and thus, the percentage of surviving and well-living individuals increase to return later and nest in the native colonies.


The large number of individuals, colonies and occupied areas, along with the intensive conservation measures, leads to a faster increase in the number of populations of the two species – the Griffon Vulture and the Cinereous Vulture, because they find food more efficiently and communicate information about its availability, find partners more easily and more they survive their roamings because they more often encounter their kind and join their groups until they strengthen and gain experience (in the young) and/or find mates (in the mature).


What’s ahead…

Griffon Vultures are being released in Central Balkan National Park (to create a new nucleus/colony) and Kresna (to boost the local colony and strengthen the species’ population in North Macedonia).

This month (March 2024), the first 9 Cinereous Vultures were also brought to be released in the Kresna Gorge. The aim is to re-populate the species in SW Bulgaria and North Macedonia. Their release is expected in the coming months.


The activities in Balkan Mountains and Kresna are carried out under the project LIFE22-NAT-BG-BEARDED VULTURE LIFE-101113869, which is co-financed by the LIFE program of the EU and is a partnership between Green Balkans, FWFF, BEPF, NWSFE, NP Sinite Kamani,  EVN Bulgaria, VCF, Mivus Group. Additional co-financing has also been provided by the Bioparc de Doue and Sainte Croix zoos in France.

You too can help the vultures

„Bearded Vulture LIFE” is co-financed with 80% by the EU programme LIFE and French Bioparc Conservation and Sainte – Croix Biodiversite.
For the remaining 20% we need your help.

Together we can help the restoration and survival of these endangered birds in our skies!

The LIFE program of the European Union finances the “Life for the Bearded Vulture” project (project 101113869 LIFE22-NAT-BG-Bearded Vulture LIFE).

The opinions expressed in the news are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the European Union’s or CINEA’s views. Neither the European Union nor the grant provider can be held responsible for the opinions expressed.

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