Griffon Vulture

Gyps fulvusHablizl, 1783

Gyps fulvus (Gm.): Reiser, 1894: 133.

Order Falconiformes

Family Accipitridae

Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Endangered EN [B1(a+c(iii)+2(a+c(iii)]+D, BDA-II, III; International: BD-I, BeC-II, CITES-II, BoC-II.

General distribution. A Palearctic species breeding in Southern Europe, Asia Minor, the Sinai peninsula, Iraq, Iran, Afganistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, India.

Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. Resident, in the past numerous on rocky sites [1, 2, 3]. It disappeared at the middle of the 20th century, after 1970 it returned to the Eastern Rhodopes along the Arda River between the city of Kardzhali and the villages of Madzharovo: 1 breeding pair in 1978 [1], until 1985 there were 1-4 nests [4, 5]. [6], in 2005 there were 36 nests [7]. It wanders in Southern Bulgaria [3, 5] and migrates along the Black Sea coast (3-5 individuals) [5] and the Sofia field [8].

Habitats. Rocky regions in the valleys of large rivers, often in the presence of wolves.

Biology. It breeds colonially (up to 10-12 pairs) in large rock complexes, periodically changing the breeding places. Singular nests are known as well (including near roads) [6]. It lays in January 1 egg. Carrion-eating, depending on freely grazing domestic animals and on the veterinary-sanitary servicing. Tens of birds may gather at one site for feeding.

Similar species. The Eurasian Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus).

Negative factors. Poisoning, illegal shooting, lack of food, clashes with electricity lines [5]. Most significant are the decrease of cattle (especially after 1985-1989), placing poisonous baits and the worsening of the habitats as a result of mining activities, forestation, disturbance, etc.). Since 2004, 40 wind turbines have become a threat in Greece near the Bulgarian border, in a region where the birds pass.

Conservation measures taken. Protected according to the Biological Diversity Act. Included in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria (1985). National and international legal measures have been adopted, a programme for maintaining and restoration activities, monitoring and stimulation of traditional animal breeding [9]. The breeding habitats are declared Protected Territories, Important Bird Areas [10] and Natura 2000 protected zones [11, 12]. A proposal has been made for declaring the Eastern Rhodopes a Natural Park [12]. Key municipalities (Madzharovo) have been involved in its protection. A campaign against the use of poisons. Reintroduction is being prepared.

Conservation measures needed. Preparation and enforcement of a National Plan for its preservation. Stimulation of pasture animal breeding, compensation of damages from wolves. Declaration of the Eastern Rhodopes a National Park, drafting a Management Plan for it. Continuation of the artificial feeding, the campaign against the use of poisons, the replenishment of the population and the start of re-introduction.

References. 1. Michev et al., 1980; 2. The Red Data Book of Bulgaria, 1985; 3. Simeonov et al., 1990; 4. Iankov, 1981; 5. Iankov, Profirov, 1991; 6. Ornithologica Database BSPB, Sofia; 7. D. Demerdjiev, personal communication; 8. Iankov et al., 1994; 9. Stoychev et al., 2004; 10. Kostadinova, 1997; 11. Mateeva, Gramatikov, 2007; 12. Stoychev, Petrova, 2003.

Authors: Petar Iankov, Simeon Marin, Marin Kurtev, Hristo Hristov, Ivelin Ivanov

Griffon Vulture (distribution map)

Griffon Vulture (drawing)