the first time in Europe it is sure that an Egyptian vulture born in captivity and released in the wild has formed a wild couple

The CERM Centro Rapaci Threatened Association has spread the extraordinary news that Sara, born at CERM in 2015 and released the same year in Puglia, has a partner and that the couple has been observed in a reproductive attitude.

It is the first time that, 19 years after the release in the wilf of young Egyptian vultures born at CERM, there is finally evidence that one of the specimens is part of a wild couple in a reproductive phase. And it is the first time that such an event has occurred in Europe.

Sara and her partner photographed during the migration

The CERM Association, which had organized the release of Sara in the Gravina di Laterza (TA) in collaboration with the LIPU and with the support of the Ministry of the Environment, was able to follow all the movements of this Egyptian vulture thanks to the Microwave Telemetry GPS of which it is equipped with and which worked from 2015 to today (usually the duration does not exceed 3-4 years).

After staying for four years in sub-Saharan Africa, with aestivation in the Atlas (in northern Algeria), from 2019 onwards Sara returned every year to southern Italy to spend the spring and summer there and then return to overwintering in Niger.

Sara’s spring 2022 migration

This year his arrival was eagerly awaited because Sara is seven years old and, therefore, is ready for reproduction. Hopes grew when a two-month advance in its northward migration compared to previous years was verified.

On 26 February 2022 Sara left Niger and, after a journey of about 2,800 km, on  March 22nd she arrived in Sicily; the next day she stopped in the center of the island, in an area usually frequented by the species. Since she seemed willing to stay close to a rocky wall, CERM partner Mimmo Bevacqua and Andrea Cairone, ornithologists expert in birds of prey, were alerted and directed thanks to the data provided by the GPS. An inspection carried out with all the necessary precautions, keeping at a considerable distance, allowed them to observe Sara, with the GPS still in its place and the plumage almost completely colored orange (the Egyptian vultures use to take mud baths).

And that’s not all: Sara was in the company of a male and the two Egyptian vultures showed unequivocal reproductive attitudes, which led to the hypothesis that the formation of the new couple had already taken place in Africa. On April 2nd Sara left and headed for the areas of Basilicata which she regularly frequented in recent years. It is probable that the legitimate owners of the Sicilian nesting territory, which appeared after a few days, chased away the “intruding” couple.

But the story goes on and Sara and her partner were seen in Basilicata mating again in an area frequented by the species. Now it is important that this new couple can enjoy the peace of mind necessary to carry on the reproduction. Therefore, the CERM Association asks everyone for the utmost cooperation, so that the desire to observe the two animals or to take a photo does not compromise the happy ending of this story by causing the abandonment of the nesting. Sara will be watched by some ornithologists who collaborate in the LIFE Egyptian vulture project and the Forestry Carabinieri.

The fact that Sara is ready to perpetuate the species demonstrates that captive reproduction and the release of the young in the wild are long term effective operations which can provide valuable assistance for its conservation.

From 2017 onwards these activities are carried out by the CERM Association together with the ISPRA Higher Institute for Environmental Protection and Research as part of the LIFE Egyptian vulture Project, thanks to which, in Italy, other actions are implemented in favor of the Egyptian vulture from E-Distribuzione, Federparchi, Basilicata Region and Puglia Region.

The CERM Association thanks all those who have worked and who work for the protection of the Egyptian vulture and thanks, in particular, the VCF Vulture Conservation Foundation Association that has handled the costs of receiving in recent years Sara’s GPS data of a record duration.

Sara just born (05/18/2015)


Life Egyptian Vulture