Reintroduction of the Bearded Vulture in the Alps

The Bearded Vulture or Lammergeier is a very rare vulture  which lives in mountainous areas. It has been extinct on the Italian Alps since the beginning of the last century, mostly as a result of irrational direct persecution by man.

Over thirty years ago, a small group of Austrian researchers launched an ambitious cross-border project to bring this species back to the alpine areas where it had previously become extinct.

 

In the first phase, a breeding programme in captivity was begun and with this in mind, a census of the few Bearded Vultures in zoos was carried out. From these individuals, non– consanguineous pairs were formed and – following an ambitious experimental research project – were placed in situations favourable for reproduction. The first instances of successful breeding provided new individuals to bost the number of pairs in captivity and from 1985, the first young Bearded Vultures were released into the wild.

 

The first istance of released juveniles breeding in the wild took place in Haute Savoie in 1996 and the great success of this project is demonstrated by the presence currently in the Alps of about 130 individuals; in 2012, eleven juveniles were fledged.

 

The Monticello Centre, with backing from the Regione Lombardia, was the first Italian centre to be entrusted by the Bearded Vulture Foundation, in 2002, with a pair of bearded vultures on the understanding that any resulting juveniles would be released into the wild; in 2010, a second pair arrived at the centre thus increasing the chances of reproduction for this species.

 

It is to be hoped that in the near future, the adult pair will be able to breed so as to provide a significant contribution to this important conservation project.