In these dire times, the “collaboration” between livestock breeders of Kompsatos valley and a “nature’s clean-up crew” seems to have equally benefited both. Increasing and strict sanitary regulations of carcasses disposal force livestock breeders to process accordingly with their dead animals, something that might be difficult to achieve in some places. Due to the above mentioned regulations, the availability of vultures’ food source has shrunk
Right now in Kompsatos, the vultures provide free and natural service of carcass disposal minimizing the spreading of many dangerous diseases and in return the livestock breeders offer them safe food. Thus, reducing the risk of poisoning will result in increased breeding performance and greater survival rates.
To date, around twenty different feedings were carried out by ten livestock breeders who placed dead animals (sheep and goats) at four feeding stations. On an almost regular basis, the WWF team distributes food among the feeding stations. In total, more than four tons of meat originating from slaughter houses and butchers were provided to vultures.
The trap cameras installed at the feeding stations give us the opportunity to follow and observe all guests visiting the place. Of course, throughout the year, the most common species are the permanent residents of the valley: the griffon vultures (the annual breeding monitoring of the griffon vultures revealed four active nests in the area), buzzards, golden eagles, ravens and crows. It also has to be noted that in spring and summer, one out of the last three remaining Egyptian vulture pairs remaining in Greece benefits from the feeding stations’ operation, highlighting their crucial importance for the overall conservation of vultures. In 2019 the birds succeeded in raising one chick. This year, the same pair has been incubating, so it is very likely that they will succeed in breeding again.
Apart from residents and breeders, other species have also been hosted at the feeding stations. In fact, recently there was a rare observation of an immature steppe eagle that might just stopped to feed and rest at one of the feeding stations before continuing its trip. Cinereous vultures from Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli forest National Park and griffon vultures from Serbia and Bulgaria that have visited the Kompsatos’ feeding stations just prove and emphasize the role of the network of feeding stations that is crucial in the vultures’ conservation in the Eastern Rhodopes and the Balkans.
Under the current LIFE RE-Vultures project the BSPB team conducted a specialized study to reveal the pattern of presence of the Cinereous vulture in the Bulgarian side of Eastern Rhodopes. As a result, in the period 2016 – 2019, 168 Cinereous Vultures were recorded in a total of 106 feeding attempts in Studen Kladentez area.