Record number of griffon vultures were counted this year at the annual census of roosting griffon vultures on the Balkan Peninsula. This year 245 griffon vultures were counted along Arda River in Rhodope Mountains rewilding area, the highest registered during the annual roost count in the Eastern Rhodopes since 2005.
A milestone success for the local rewilding team, this record-breaking result represents another positive step forward in the Balkan-based comeback of these magnificent birds.
The area is home of the largest colony of griffon vultures in Bulgaria. The census is traditionally held at the beginning of winter, when the breeding period of vultures begins. The aim of the annual roosting count is to determine the population of Griffon Vultures in the Balkans, their age structure, pre-nest distribution and to identify potential threats in nesting and resting places.
In the Greek part of the mountain were registered 60 birds so for the Rhodopes there are a total of 305 birds. In comparison, 147 vultures were registered last year due to bad weather conditions, which ultimately led to a lower number of birds.
This year only limited number experts and volunteers from Rewilding Rhodopes and Bulgarian Society for the protection of took part in the traditional census of Griffon Vultures on the Balkan Peninsula due to the current limitation – 18 in the Bulgarian and 13 in the Greek park of Rhodope Mountains. In Bulgaria, the annual monitoring also covers places for reintroduction sites where the species have returned. In the areas Kresna Gorge, Sinite kamani, Vratsa Mountains and Kotlenski Balkan were registered a total of 188 birds.
The traditional census of the Griffon Vultures on the Balkan Peninsula started in 2005 – this is the 16th census that took place on 21st of November. BSPB is the organiser and coordinator in partnership with nature conservation organisations from Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Northern Macedonia.
The census in the Eastern Rhodopes is carried out within the LIFE project “Conservation of Black and Griffon Vultures in the Rhodopes”.
The LIFE Vultures project was developed by Rewilding Europe in partnership with Rewilding Rhodopes Foundation, Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds/Birdlife Bulgaria, WWF Greece, Vulture Conservation Foundation and Hellenic Ornithological Society/BirdLife Greece, and is funded by the European Commission and Fondation Segré.