At last, after years of expectation, the Extremadura Monk Vulture colony in Tajo Internacional has decided to cross the border and start breeding in Portugal. This Cáceres colony of about 60 established pairs of Monk Vulture (also known as Cinereous Vulture and Black Vulture) has been nesting for some time at the end of the valley called Valle del Salor, within the "Tajo Internacional" Nature Park. Although birds from the colony often wandered into Portugal, they never actually nested in the neighbouring country, where the species was considered to be extinct as a breeder [although the media claim that the Monk Vulture had not bred in Portugal for 40 years, according to Infante (2004) there have been two confirmed cases of breeding, one in 1994 and the other in 2003]. All previous Portuguese attempts to expand the colony into their country, for example by installing artificial nests, had failed up to now. But it’s never too late...., in 2010 came the excellent news of three breeding territories being taken up on the Portuguese side of the border, two of which produced young. But the birds were beset by problems. The first pair failed when the nest fell at the start of incubation. Chicks hatched in the other two nests, in Holm Oaks, but they were blown down by gales in June and the chicks fell to the ground, where they were hastily rescued. One was in a critical state and needed intensive care in a specialist centre. Both chicks, baptised Aramil and Tajo, were then returned to their territories, duly marked with radio transmitters. Two artificial nests were built for that purpose, in the exact place where the original nests had fallen. There they completed their normal development. These three Portuguese pairs are very likely to have come from Extremadura.
Gala, the first Monk Vulture chick born in the Pyrenees for one hundred years, rests in her nest with a transmitter fitted to her back.
These two success stories are matched by others in France, Mallorca, Bulgaria, Greece, etc, where Monk Vultures from Extremadura are being used in reintroduction or reinforcement projects (see our blog SEO-Cáceres). 1992 saw the start of one of the most successful of these projects in the French Massif Central, where 30 pairs have now settled down, meaning that the French population is now the second biggest in Europe.
This information has been culled from the website: Pelanatureza (Portugal), Grefa and the reintroduction project in the Pyrenees. The photographs have been taken from http://www.grefa.org/.
Infante, S. (2004). Status and Conservation of the Black Vulture in Portugal. International Symposium on the Black Vulture Aegypius monachus. Córdoba. España.