“This is one of only two black vultures that were born in the PNDI and that are now returning to a protected area. This route was possible to follow thanks to a GPS device”, indicated the environmental protection association Palombar.
In a statement, Palombar indicated that the Black Vulture attended a Feeding Field for Necrophagous Birds (CAAN) located in the municipality of Miranda do Douro, district of Bragança, which is managed by this non-governmental organisation that registered the juvenile through a photo trapping camera.
“The juvenile black vulture, named Lechuga, was born in 2020, as well as another individual of the same species, and are offspring of the only two breeding of black vultures so far identified in the PNDI”, specifies the same note.
According to Palombar, the vulture Lechuga abandoned its birth area, in the PNDI, in February 2021, and, since then, it had been exploring new territories between Spain and Portugal, namely the province of Salamanca, the Sierra de Gredos and the Spanish Extremadura as well as the Alentejo.
The registration of this animal in a CAAN proves the importance of these structures for the provision of quality food, free of toxic substances, and regularly for endangered scavenger bird species, which is essential mainly during the breeding season and the dispersal period of juveniles, also contributing to the establishment and fixation of these in the territory and to the increase of its breeding population.
In May 2020, Palombar had also registered at least eight black vultures feeding in a CAAN managed by the organisation in the municipality of Mogadouro.
Black vultures are frequently registered in the CAANs managed by Palombar, so these structures are effectively contributing to a possible increase in the number of breeding black vulture pairs in the PNDI in the coming years.
The only two black vulture chicks born at the PNDI in 2020 were marked with a GPS device provided by the Vulture Conservation Foundation, on 26 June, 2020 and 13 July of the same year, in an action carried out under the LIFE Rupis project and coordinated by the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF/DRCNF do Norte/PNDI), with the intervention of ATNatureza- Associação Transumancia e Natureza, partners of LIFE Rupis, as well as Palombar. These were the first black vultures to be GPS-marked at the PNDI.
The black vulture became extinct as a breeding site in Portugal in the early 70s.
“This species only has one offspring per breeding season. Due to its extremely small population, the black vulture is classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ in Portugal”, emphasise the avifauna experts.
A group of at least eight black vultures was recorded by cameras feeding at the PNDI, in Mogadouro, in June 2020.
“The presence of black vultures is frequent in the feeding fields of scavenger birds (CAAN) and, over the last few years, feeding sessions with five to seven birds have been recorded by Palombar at the same time, and now a new record has been reached”, with at least eight birds, explained the biologist from Palombar José Pereira.
That avifauna specialist has no doubts that this is the largest number of this endangered species so far observed in a feeding field for scavenger birds managed by Palombar “in a single day”.
The Iberian LIFE Rupis project, which lasted five years, left a “unique mark” in the preservation of the avifauna of the Douro International and in the protected area of Arribes del Duero on the Spanish side.
LIFE Rupis promoters accounted for a total investment of €2.7 million in the territory, including the reinforcement of the technical and institutional capacities of the various partners, namely Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in this Douro International territory.
The LIFE Rupis programme also included an environmental education programme that involved all schools in the region, where more than 5,000 students and teachers participated.