Wednesday, 24 May 2023

Biom Association Campaign to Save Young Griffon Vultures in Croatia

May 24, 2023 - On the International Day of Biological Diversity and Nature Protection Day, Biom Association launched a donation campaign, "Let my flight not be the last," aiming to save young Eurasian griffon vultures in Croatia.

Griffon vultures are the last remaining scavenger species in Croatia, whose population numbers only about 120 pairs, the press release states, reported by 24Sata.

Once hatched, griffon vulture chicks stay in the nest for four months while both parents care for them. However, the association warns that 30 birds fall into the sea every year due to human behaviour.

"Due to the various human activities that take place near the nests, such as the large number of tourist and other vessels that sail near the cliffs in the summer season, the birds can panic and fly away from the nest prematurely," they note in Biom.

By the end of the three-year campaign, the goal is to collect 40,000 euros, which will cover warning and informing boat owners and other people about behaviour near the cliffs, as well as searching the sea surface and bird rescue operations, in which trained and experienced volunteers will participate.

The vultures will then be transported to a recovery center and, after recovery, returned to nature. In this way, 12 griffon vultures can be saved a year, the association points out.

"The griffon vulture has an important place in cleaning and keeping the environment healthy because it feeds on the remains of dead animals - that's why it is essential to start preserving this endangered species as soon as they make their first flight so that it is not their last as well," said the campaign leader Paula Pocanić Vovk.

The first stage of the campaign started yesterday so that the collected funds could be used to activate the rescue team for the summer season of 2024.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 4 September 2022

LIFE SUPport - Project for Croatian Griffon Vulture Protection

September the 4th, 2022 - The LIFE SUPport project, which seeks to protect and make the life of the Croatian griffon vulture (bjeloglavi sup) easier, is a praiseworthy one to say the very least.

As Morski writes, the LIFE SUPport project, worth a massive 2,159,598 euros in total, 60 percent of which is financed from the LIFE programme of the European Union (EU), will improve the protection of Croatian griffon vultures as well as their nesting and living conditions in the country.

These utterly magnificent birds that used to nest all over the country, from Eastern Croatia all the way to the Adriatic coastline, has unfortunately been found nesting only on the Kvarner islands of Cres, Krk, Prvic and Plavnik over more recent decades. This year, after more than a hundred years, they have finally extended their nesting area to the Ucka Nature Park.

There are currently around 120 breeding pairs of Croatian Griffon vultures, and the LIFE SUPport project aims to strengthen their population and enable them to return to their historical nesting grounds in the mainland part of the country as well. The project, which starts in January 2023, will offer solutions to the most important threats to Croatian griffon vultures: a lack of food, disturbance during nesting, poisoning and electrocution.

''Everything we'll do during the five years of the LIFE SUPport project will have long-term consequences, as the Croatian griffon vulture is a long-lived species that takes five years to reach reproductive age. That's why we expect to see some of the results of the activities we'll carry out only in the next decade, but beyond it,'' said Zeljka Rajkovic, the executive director of the BIOM Association.

The need for the urgent implementation of such a project was determined by the expert basis for the proposal of the griffon vulture management plan alongside an action plan.

''Since these vultures lack food in nature, we intend to expand our network of feeding stations. A new feeding ground will be built on Krk, and this feeding ground, along with the existing ones on the island of Cres and in the Ucka Nature Park, would improve the needs of the current Croatian griffon vulture population and strengthen their population. During the project, we will develop cooperation with local shepherds and hunters. In the future, we need to prevent the accidental killing and poisoning of Croatian griffon vultures. The use of lead-free ammunition will be promoted among hunters, and we'll encourage the protection of herds of sheep with the use of fences and guard dogs,'' said Karla Skorjanc, the manager of the Krk Agricultural Cooperative.

The electric power infrastructure will also be improved, thanks to the participation of HEP, so that Croatian griffon vultures aren't placed in danger by electric wires. Measures to protect birds from electrocution will be applied to 200 medium-voltage poles on the Kvarner islands and in the Ucka Nature Park, and as many as 60 employees of energy companies will be educated about the importance of improving the energy network in order to protect these vultures.

''Among the main goals of the project is the decrease in the mortality of young birds by reducing the level of disturbance in their nests and by improving the work of our visitor centre and recovery centre for the vultures. We've got great cooperation with the local population in rescuing vultures that fall into the sea during their first flights from their nests on the island's cliffs. During the project, boat owners, fishermen and tourists will also be additionally educated about desirable, but also mandatory, behaviour in the vicinity of Croatian griffon vultures,'' pointed out Irena Juric, the director of the Priroda (Nature) Public Institution, which manages the visitor centre and recovery centre for these birds.

Ten young Croatian griffon vultures are currently being cared for at the recovery centre, and when they've been rehabilitated, they'll be returned to nature.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Monday, 25 October 2021

Ten Griffon Vultures Released from Sanctuary on Cres Island

October 25, 2021 - Ten fully recovered griffon vultures were released back to nature on Monday from the sanctuary in Beli on the island of Cres.

All of the birds are the chicks hatched this year in the nests built on the east-facing steep cliffs near Beli on Cres. Their first flights didn't really end well, so they landed in the sea and were rescued thanks to the dedication of the local community and nautical and other tourists, who reported their falls to the employees of the Visitors centre and sanctuary for griffon vultures. The gang of ten released today have interesting names: Tarej, Ledenko, Špilja, Poskok, Alpioniscus, Harpactia, Kristal, Duga, Zlatan and Stalaktit.

The sanctuary is managed by the Public Institution "Priroda", owned by the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County. In the five years since they've been in charge 51 recovered vultures were given another lease on life.

Four of the griffon vultures were provided with special instruments which will record their movements after the release. The cooperation between the Priroda Institution and the BIOM Association has lasted for years, and they've been supplying the GPS trackers for the Cres Vultures through their various projects.

The director of the Priroda Institution Irena Jurić told the Croatian Radiotelevision that the GPS tracking, in addition to providing valuable info on the vultures' movements, repeatedly allowed the scientists to rescue the vultures who have found themselves in dire straits - again. For instance, the vulture named Kvarner was released in 2018, after being saved on Cres, only to be saved again in Italy when it was noticed that he wasn't moving. After a long recovery, he was once more released and is currently living a happy life in France.

The Zagreb Zoo has been supporting the Beli Sanctuary since its inception, with its expertise and veterinary care. Damir Skok, the Zagreb Zoo director said that modern zoos have a large role in the education of the public, especially when it comes to the preservation of the protected species.

Thanks to the combining the methods of putting rings on the birds and the GPS following, the scientists know that one of the vultures from Cres named Vranac was noticed near Vienna in June, Marin V. was seen near Udine ten days after being released, Barbara was registered in the Austrian Alps and Taras made a round from the north of Poland to the Sisak-Moslavina County.

These days, the griffon vultures only make their nests in Croatia on the islands of Cres, Krk, Prvić and Plavnik. That's why a lot of effort is put into preserving the endangered majestic species of birds.

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Island of Cres: Oldest Oak Tree Medunac, Caves and Griffon Vultures

September 29, 2020 - If you are looking for a perfect autumn atmosphere, the island of Cres is waiting for you. The oldest oak tree Medunac, caves, and griffon vultures are just a few things that you can expect on your visit to this part of Kvarner Bay.

As writes, one of the attractions of the island of Cres, which is the most interesting in the fall, is the wooded area of Tramuntana, in the northern part of the island of Cres. The area of the Tramuntana forest is almost 5,500 hectares, and it represents an important natural heritage. The vegetation of this area consists of forests of tall oak, hornbeam, and chestnut. The oldest Medunac oak tree was declared a protected natural monument in 1997.

One of the most famous oak Medunac is located in the hamlet of Sveti Petar. Due to its age and appearance and the large cavities in the body, various stories and legends are woven around it that you will probably be able to learn from the locals or at the Visitor Center in Beli. Anyone who has had a chance to see the beauty of this tree before it has been ravaged by several storms in recent decades and has broken most of its branches and top of the canopy is likely to be disappointed with today’s appearance of the tree. However, the tree still looks impressive and will probably withstand future weather and other adversities for a long time.

Experience the magnificent silhouette of a griffon vulture in flight

Watching the flight of griffon vultures in Kvarner is a unique experience. Vultures most often fly in groups, hardly flapping their wings and searching for food for hours, which is very attractive for bird watchers and all visitors to the island. They cross great distances with ease, and their appearance in the air or on one of the island's cliffs leaves no one indifferent.

Vultures are charismatic birds. Although they may not look attractive at first glance, the fact is that they have shared living space with people over a long history and have become part of folk tales and legends, taking on an important ecological and cultural role in the island space. Their charisma is also proven by the fact that they are considered a symbol of the island of Cres. Anyone who visits Cres and the Kvarner islands must look up at the sky, searching for the magnificent silhouette of a griffon vulture in flight.

Griffon Vulture | Photo by Romulic and Stojcic

The caves are hiding 12,000-year-old skeletons

There are numerous caves and pits on Tramuntana. Some of them are especially important for biospelological, paleontological, and prehistoric studies. Four skeletons of a 12,000-year-old brown cave bear were found in the Campari pit (Baniceva cave), a unique speleological object, near the village of Petricevi. These are the only such complete skeletons in this part of Europe.

Eco trails former roads that connected villages

The first educational eco-trail on the island of Cres that leads through the Tramuntana area takes you through a total of 20 stations marked by stone sculptures by the academic sculptor Ljubo De Karina. The verses of Andro Vid Mihicic, a great poet, patriot, and thinker born in Beli, are engraved on them. A network of instructive eco-trails has been established in the Tramuntana forest area. Along the trails, numerous labyrinths are designed to become a means of re-establishing the communication between Man and the Spirit of Nature.

In Tramuntana, there are a total of 7 pedestrians, the so-called eco trails that pass through the former roads that connected the now-abandoned villages and pastoral apartments on Tramuntana, seven hiking trails, and three bike trails. Experience the wilderness, meet sheep, turtles, griffon vultures. Go around the labyrinths, pass the paths surrounded by walls, and just follow the marked points.

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