Cinereous Vulture embarks on a long Balkan trip through 5 countries

24 April 2019

Chrysoula – an immature Cinereous Vulture, tagged in 2017 in Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli Forest National Park in Greece, made her first trip outside Rhodopes. and it turned to be a long one – 3200 km for 17 days.

First, she took a long ride heading up north reaching Serbia and after a short rest back in her native colony, Chrysoula started another exciting trip over the Balkans. She flew over North Macedonia and spent one day in Albania which is the first record of the species in the country for decades. With no hesitation she turned south and within 3 days reached Athens. She spent a night in the the outskirts of the city and decided to go back home. Following again the edge of the mountain chains Chrysoula returned to her native colony and immediately visited the supplementary feeding station in Dadia, gladly refueling with her friends.

Chrysoula – an immature Cinereous Vulture took a a long Balkan trip -covering 3200 km and five countries for 17 days.

The vulture finished its spring trip over the Balkans passing through Bulgaria, Serbia, North Macedonia, Albania and reaching south to Athens in Greece. This amazing journey shows that vultures know no borders and their successful conservations depends on the mutual actions of all countries across the region.

Some young Cinereous Vultures have adventurous spirits and like to travel outside their native colony and explore new areas. This is important period for them to gain knowledge on the presence of other vulture colonies and suitable areas with good feeding opportunities.  Through GPS telemetry we have witnessed other amazing trips during the past few years.  Last year Then Helena flew directly over both the Southern Carpathians rewilding area in Romania, and the Rhodope Mountains rewilding area in Bulgaria. Another surprise for the monitoring team back in 2018 was Lefteris. He set out on his journey and explored Bulgaria’s Central Balkan National Park for five days, before returning to Dadia.

Dadia – Lefkimi – Soufli Forest National Park is the last Cinereous Vulture’s stronghold in the Balkans. Today the Eastern Rhodopes of Greece hosts the only breeding colony of the species  in the Balkans, with 30 – 35 pairs breeding annually. The number of breeding pairs has remained relatively stable in recent years.

The tagging being carried as part of the Conservation of black and griffon vultures in the Rhodope mountains – the first of its kind in the Rhodope Mountains for Griffon vultures, and the biggest for Cinereous Vultures on the Balkans – is essential for the successful conservation of both species. As GPS data is systematically fed into a Geographic Information System (GIS), together with a range of other variables, so the project team is gaining ground-breaking insight into the movement of vulture populations in the monitoring area, the various threats that they face, and the best ways to support the birds’ comeback.  Everyone can follow the movements of the birds on Rewilding Rhodope website that features a live vulture tracker showing the (almost) real time routes of tagged birds.

  • Visit the Rewilding Rhodopes Foundation website here.
  • Read more about the LIFE Vultures project here.
  • Learn more about the Rhodope Mountains rewilding area here.
  • Visit the Rewilding Rhodopes Facebook page here.


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