The first 10 Griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus) arrived on Friday evening at Larnaca airport from Spain, of the 30 that will reinforce the rapidly dwindling local population of the species.
According to project coordinator BirdLife Cyprus the first 10 birds arrived “safe and sound”.
“The birds were ringed and are now in their temporary home, in the special acclimatisation cage of the Game and Fauna Service in the Limassol district,” the group said.
They will stay there for five to six months before their release into nature. Another five birds are expected to arrive on Sunday, while another 15 will arrive at a later stage.
“The fate of these birds is now in our hands,” BirdLife said. “With the cooperation of all stakeholders, we can and must ensure adequate living conditions for these birds in a safe natural environment, free from poison and other threats.”
The arrival of the birds is part of the ‘Life with Vultures’ programme’s efforts to prevent their extinction and strengthen their extremely diminished population on the island.
The newcomers are to boost the island’s small population of 18-20 birds of this species, which cannot multiply substantially without human intervention, BirdLife said.
It added that without targeted conservation actions, Griffon vultures have been predicted to disappear from Cyprus in the next 15 years.
The project is a collaboration between BirdLife Cyprus, the Game and Fauna Service, Terra Cypria and the Vulture Conservation Foundation, and aims to tackle the main threats facing the Griffon vulture through a targeted campaign and a number of actions.
These include actions against the use of poison baits, actions to counter collisions with overhead powerlines as well as actions to increase feeding opportunities for the provision of safe supplementary food to the vultures.