Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna

International vulture census. The Griffon vulture’s numbers are increasing on the Balkans

The census was carried out in the beginning of the winter, when the vultures’ breeding season started. The goal was to determine the numbers of the population of the Griffon vultures on the Balkans, and their age. The annual monitoring in Bulgaria spread over the Easter Rhodopes, Stara Planina, and Kresna gorge.

For the last four years the vultures’ number in Stara Planina (Balkan Mountain) is getting higher. Unlike in 2012 when the high number was due to recent release of groups of vultures, this year we have strongly fair number because of stabilization of vultures’ cores and attracting of birds from neighbor colonies. That is what the teams of Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna, Green Balkans and Bird of Prey Protection Society, the three NGOs working for reintroduction of Griffon Vulture in Bulgaria, found out after the census.

FWFF team in Kotel Mountain counted 37 vultures, whereas BPPS team in Vrachanska Mountain had 33. Our FWFF team from “LIFE for Kresna Gorge” has launched a complex census in Kresna Gorge with four teams involved and again broke the record of observed Griffon Vultures- 61 birds. There were invited well-known Bulgarian experts to take part- Lubomir Profirov, Lubomir Andreev-Lupy, Boyan Michev and some of the young experts from Bulgarian Academy of Science– Karina Ivanova, Dimitar Dimitrov and Strahil Peev, as well as FWFF faithful volunteers and the stuff.

There were 127 birds in total registered in the Kresna gorge, Vratsa and Kotel Balkans reintroduced and wild birds. Last year there were less vultures there – 108.

There were 184 Griffon vultures in the Arda river valley, the place of the largest colony in Bulgaria. In comparison, there were 178 registered Griffon vultures last year. This is the largest numbers of birds, that are spending the nights in Eastern Rhodopes from 2005 until now. These results are gathered as a result of the annual monitoring of the Griffon vultures by experts and volunteers from the Bulgarian Society for Protection of Birds (BSPB) and “Rewilding Rhodopes”.

We assume the decreased number of vultures for Macedonia as geographical region (both in SW Bulgaria- Kresna Gorge and in Republic of Macedonia-FYROM) compared to this in 2015 is a result from incorrect data of 48 bird has been gathered for 2015 for FYROM, whereas the total population of the country was 30-35 birds. If we correct the most possible mistake, it made the number in 2015 of 74-79 vultures for Macedonia as geographical region and comparing to data we just have got in 2016 of 80 birds- it shows slight increase and stability.

Data has been received from Serbia shows quite satisfaction too.

According to experts form the “LIFE for Kresna Gorge” LIFE11 NAT/BG/363 and “Bright Future for the Black Vulture” LIFE14 NAT/BG/649 project, the Griffon vulture population in the Balkans is increasing (to compare in 2015 there were 620 birds, and this year there are 724). One of the reasons for this is the international effort in species protection, part of which is also, Bulgaria.