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Cinereous Vulture conservation joins stakeholders in Tejo Internacional, the largest breeding colony in Portugal

Conservationists, authorities and land managers met for the third progress meeting of the LIFE Aegypius Return project. The meeting saw over 40 participants, all focused on consolidating and expanding the Cinereous Vulture population. This gathering combined detailed discussions and strategic planning, while reinforcing the strength of working together for wildlife conservation.


Co-operation is key to the conservation of the Cinereous Vulture 

The third progress meeting of the LIFE Aegypius Return project took place in the Tejo Internacional region, with more than 40 participants. During two days of intense work, the nine project partners, the national authorities for nature conservation (Instituto de Conservação da Natureza e Florestas - ICNF) and veterinary safety (Direção-Geral da Alimentação e Veterinária - DGAV) and the Junta de Extremadura, met at the Escola Superior Agrária de Castelo Branco, in an event coordinated by the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA). All the project actions were reviewed and discussed in detail, and the necessary procedures for the next phase of the project were agreed. 

So far, the main focus of LIFE Aegypius Return work has been to establish the baseline situation of the Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) in Portugal, organise and prepare processes, and involve the relevant stakeholders. Of the work carried out, we would highlight the cross-border cooperation that has made it possible to join forces for the protection of the Cinereous Vulture throughout the border strip between Portugal and Spain. Also noteworthy is the construction and inauguration of the acclimatisation station, an important milestone in the project that will make it possible to reinforce Portugal's most fragile and isolated breeding colony, in Douro International, as well as the efforts already made to improve the species' breeding success. 

Participants at the third meeting of LIFE Aegypius Return partners and stakeholders, in Castelo Branco.  

New phase of LIFE Aegypius Return  

The project will now begin a more operational phase, dedicated in particular to habitat management - preventing fires and other types of disturbance around the colonies - and to reinforcing the food available for the Cinereous Vulture by establishing new supplementary feeding areas for scavenging birds on extensive livestock farms. The new poison detection dog squads will also soon be on the ground, reinforcing the National Republican Guard's (GNR) capacities to fight wildlife environmental.  


In the land of vultures 

The final day of the third meeting of partners and stakeholders consisted of a field trip in Tejo Internacional Natural Park, a true biodiversity hotspot that is also home to the largest breeding colony of Cinereous Vultures in Portugal. 

The day included a visit to CERAS - the Centro de Estudos e Recuperação de Animais Selvagens, run by Quercus, where several Cinereous Vultures have already been recovered and where the four birds that inaugurated the Douro International acclimatisation station also came from. 

This was followed by visits to various Cinereous Vulture breeding territories, including Herdade da Cubeira, which is home to the equivalent of 10 per cent of the national Cinereous Vulture population. All the observations were made at a great distance from the nests, so as not to disturb the breeding pairs, which now have young chicks.  

After a fun lunch at the Rosmaninhal festival centre, we visited the supplementary feeding station for scavenger birds built by the ICNF near Segura, which will soon be operational and will help supply the Cinereous Vultures’ trophic needs.  

Observation of black vultures at a great distance from their nests. ©VCF 

The LIFE Aegypius Return partners would like to thank all the people and organisations who took part and collaborated in the activities of the third meeting of the project's partners and stakeholders, namely: ICNF, DGAV, Junta de Extremadura, CERAS/Quercus, Rewilding Portugal, Herdade da Cubeira (Dr. Frederico Horta e Costa), Junta de Freguesia do Rosmaninhal, Escola Superior Agrária de Castelo Branco, Instituto Politécnico de Castelo Branco. 



The LIFE Aegypius Return project is co-financed by the European Union's LIFE programme. Its success depends on the involvement of all the relevant stakeholders, and the collaboration of the partners, the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF), the coordinating beneficiary, and the local partners Palombar - Conservação da Natureza e do Património Rural, Herdade da Contenda, Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves, Liga para a Protecção da Natureza, Faia Brava, Fundación Naturaleza y Hombre, Guarda Nacional Republicana and Associação Nacional de Proprietários Rurais Gestão Cinegética e Biodiversidade.  


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