Great bad news: Kate, one of the Egyptian vultures freed in Basilicata in the summer of 2019, died in Sicily. The carcass of the young vulture was found in an agricultural area near Licata (AG) on January 3, 2020.
Born at CERM in 2018, Kate had been freed in the Murgia Materana Park together with seven other young Egyptian vultures thanks to the operations conducted by the CERM Association and ISPRA as part of the LIFE Egyptian vulture project.
At the end of the summer Kate had decided to move further south of the release area but not to migrate to Africa and frequented western Sicily. Diego and Lucrezia also behaved in the same way: Diego is in Sicily and Lucrezia in Calabria.
In Sicily Kate was monitored thanks to the GPS device she was equipped with but she had always been followed by a group of volunteers who, when possible, had also provided her with some food support.
Unfortunately, at the end of December 2019 the GPS data indicated that the Egyptian vulture carried out only minimal movements. On January 3, 2020 the ornithologists Agostino Cantavenera, Giuseppe Cantavenera and Andrea Ciaccio, alerted and “guided” by Guido Ceccolini of the CERM Association, found the carcass of the poor animal.
What little remains of Kate’s body, completely stripped of some birds of prey, was delivered by the CITES Forestry Carabinieri of Palermo to the Experimental Zooprophylactic Institute of Palermo.
A first radiological examination has excluded the presence of dots in the bones but this does not entirely exclude that the animal may have been killed by a shotgun. Another cause of death could be the ingestion of poisoned morsels, but to understand it, it is necessary to wait for the outcome of the toxicological tests.
On the other hand, it can be excluded that the death was caused by electrocution or impact against wind turbines because there is no such infrastructure in the area.
The fact that Kate after only two months of stay in Sicily is very serious: it is the fourth specimen among those released by CERM over the years and equipped with GPS to die or “disappear” in western Sicily.
In 2018 this horrible fate fell to Clara, who was shot dead in Trapani during her migration, about a month after her release in Basilicata.