During this autumn, the monitoring of the Griffon vultures’ population in the Central Apennines is going on
Within the memorandum of understanding between the Carabinieri Biodiversità of Castel di Sangro and Rewilding Apennines, two successful trapping sessions of Griffon vultures were carried out between October and November in the State Reserve “Monte Velino”. The sessions carried out by the staff of Carabinieri Biodiveristà, with the help of Rewilding Apennines’ staff and volunteers, resulted in the capture of 61 vultures, including 6 yearlings, 3 individuals from a Spanish population, one from Portugal and one from France.
During these delicate operations, all the animals underwent a health check, marking rings were applied to individuals that didn’t have them, to allow their recognition from distance. 12 GPS tags were installed to follow the movements of these animals via satellite tracking.
After the temporary capture, all the animals were released without any damages and they went back to fly freely.
Thanks to the joint commitment, to date 25 Griffon vultures in the Central Apennines are equipped with GPS trackers. All this satellite-tracked vultures group allows to study the foraging routes and the feeding areas. Thanks to field surveys done by the Vulture Field Officer of Rewilding Apennines with the volunteers and the Reserve Monte Velino staff, these areas are then checked to identify the kind of carrion these vultures feed upon. This constant monitoring can help also in locating and removing poisoned baits, thereby avoiding or minimizing wildlife mortality due to this cruel and illegal practice: not only griffon vultures are vulnerable to poisoning, but also eagles, ravens, wolfs and bears.
We need to be therefore thankful to these vultures for several reasons: as effective scavengers, they complete the circle of life by “cleaning” the mountains from domestic and wild carcasses, they impede the spreading of infectious diseases transmittable by direct or indirect contact with dead animals, and they allow to identify carcasses deliberately poisoned and these situations are punishable as true criminal acts!