The fate of the first captive-bred Egyptian Vultures released in Bulgaria

27.02.2018
Raising awareness among the local people in the village where Elodie was killed. © Saley Mahamane Mourtala

Elodie, the last of the first three captive-bred Egyptian Vultures, tagged with satellite transmitters and released in the wild in 2016, died. Elodie was the second documented case of tagged juvenile Egyptian vulture that crossed successfully the Mediterranean Sea from the Balkans. This happened during her first migration.  She was wintering in Niger where in September 2017 was killed by local people for bush meat.

In 2016 the first releases of captive-bred Egyptian Vultures took place in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) put three young Egyptian vultures in artificial nest within the Nature Park "Rusenski Lom" courtesy of the Department of the Park and Green Balkans. Two of the vultures (Regina and Lom) were provided by the Vienna zoo and the other one (Elodie) - by a zoo in Paris.  The young Egyptian Vultures were kept in the hack for 16 days until they have fully developed and adapted to the place. All three vultures were tagged with satellite transmitters in order to follow their movements and migration. Regina started its south migration first only 6 days after the release. Lom started his migration 4 days later. Both vultures were following similar migration route crossing through the Dardanelles and migrating through Western Anatolia in Turkey. They both reached the Adrasan Peninsula and decided to cross the sea reaching Cyprus. Afterwards both Regina and Lom continued southwest and were flying over the sea alongside and not far from the coast. However, due to unknown reasons they didn’t reach the coast and finally drowned into the sea. Elodie started its migration last and chose different migration route. She migrated through Greece and successfully crossed the Mediterranean Sea between Crete and Libya. But just like Paschalis - the first Egyptian vulture who successfully reached the shores of Africa, Elodie was killed in Niger.

On 13/09/2017 Elodie stopped transmitting from a place near the village Aboussa in southern Niger. Under the guidance of SCF, a team from the Management unit of the Biosphere Reserve of Gadabeji visited the last coordinates of Elodie to investigate her fate. The team visited the village of Aboussa, located 60 km east of Gadabedji in the Commune of Tarka (Department of Belbedji), not far away from the village of Guidan Dan Jimo. Once at the place the ground team with the help of the village chief searched the area to find remains from the vulture or the transmitter itself. They found two local people who helped them to find the transmitter and the ring, because they were aware of the case and knew the men who killed Elodie. According to the investigation held the bird was seen for the first time on 10/09/2017 at around 14:30 UTC, in the camp, feeding on a dead cow carcass. Two to three days later, the children were worried by this strange bird and this is what prompted two men to kill the vulture on Thursday 14/09/2017 around 16h in the camp. Panicked after discovering the equipment of the bird, they escaped by granting part of the meat to the children of the camp.

The local villagers stated that they have never seen Egyptian Vulture before, only the 65 years old head of the village has seen the species when he was young. During this mission, a local community awareness meeting had been organized. The purpose of this meeting was to present the images of the vultures encountered in Niger and to recall their status and their protection by the law. Since the identity of the poachers was revealed, the village chief asked them to present themselves. They will be held accountable in accordance with the law and this will serve as a lesson to all those who will attempt to perform such acts which are in contradiction with the national and international legislation.

The vultures were provided by the Praha Zoo within the framework of the European Endangered Species Programmes (EEP) of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), by courtesy of the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF).

 

More information about the first captive-bred Egyptian Vultures in Bulgaria find in the Technical report “First release of captive-bred Egyptian Vultures in Bulgaria”, prepared under the LIFE project “Egyptian vulture New LIFE”.

© Saley Mahamane Mourtala
© Saley Mahamane Mourtala
Remains from Elodie killed for bushmeat in Niger. © Saley Mahamane Mourtala
© Saley Mahamane Mourtala
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