Past and Present State of the Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus in Rila and Pirin National Parks and Rilski Manastir Nature Park

Hristo Peshev1, Emilian Stoynov1*, Dimitar Parvanov2, Atanas Grozdanov2
1 - Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna,
49 Ivan Michaylov Str., 2700 Blagoevgrad, P.O.Box 78, BULGARIA
2 - Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski", Faculty of Biology,
8 Dragan Tzankov Blvd. 1000 Sofia, BULGARIA
*Corresponding author:
Abstract. Widespread in the past, the Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) has disappeared in most of Europe (including Bulgaria) in the 20th century. Although this species was reported from Southwestern Bulgaria in the area of Rila and Pirin it became locally extinct. In the end of 20th century it was breeding only in Eastern Rhodopes. With the local reintroduction of the species in Kresna Gorge since 2010, the high mountain pastures and cliffs regained their role of refuge for the Griffon Vulture mainly in summer. Here, we report and analyze the home range and seasonal presence of the species in Rila National Park, Pirin National Park and Rilski Manastir Nature Park. Home range analysis was based on data received from 8 birds tracked by GPS/GSM transmitters in Southwestern Bulgaria. The obtained results (Max. Daily distance = 195.3 ± 51.1 km; Home-range 95% kernel = 238 ± 207.5km2 and core area 50% kernel = 6.5 ± 5.4 km2) indicated that these birds almost exclusively roost and feed in the already established Griffon Vulture colonies or join the seasonal gatherings of conspecifics, which are usually found within a zone of 15 km radius from a complex of feeding site or abundant easy accessible food in close proximity to suitable roosting places. Strategically placed and permanently supplied vulture feeding stations in close proximity of roosting sites, may concentrate large numbers of Griffon Vultures in relatively small and controlled areas. This, in combination with implementation of site based conservation activities such as the creation of Vulture Safe Areas, the impact of any, otherwise, hardly controlled and large-scale threats, such as poisoning and electrocution can be buffered. Rila and Pirin National Parks as well as Rilski Manastir Nature Park are recommended for management, adapted to the Vulture Safe Areas concept.
Key words:  local extinction, reintroduction, conservation, Gyps fulvus, summer pastures, Vulture Safe Areas.

Ecologia Balkanica, 2019, Special Edition 2, pp. 23-30
Article № eb.19SE209 [Full text - PDF]pdf

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