A Vision for the Vultures
.A double Independence Day celebration in the acclimation cage at Ramat Hanadiv – four Egyptian vultures were released to nature and a griffon vulture chick emerged into the world
The Nature Park at Ramat Hanadiv, besides being an enjoyable setting for a hike on a spring weekend, is also a collection point for injured wild animals and a breeding and acclimation center for endangered birds, rearing the chicks until their maturation and release to nature. This project is conducted in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority, for the reintroduction of griffon vultures, lesser kestrels and other birds of prey to nature.
Last month we were excited by two significant events in which four young Egyptian vultures were released to nature and a griffon vulture egg hatched.
The Egyptian vulture is an endangered bird of prey worldwide and we have a vested interest in protecting the worldwide Egyptian vulture population. After a successful reproductive process that took place in the Hai-Bar Carmel Nature Reserve, four young Egyptian vultures were brought to Ramat Hanadiv for a two-month acclimation period. The Egyptian vultures matured and the time came for their release to nature.
Before releasing the Egyptian vultures, they were marked and fitted with transmitters that monitor their movements in the ‘real’ world, even years after their release. The release was performed by opening the cage and waiting for the Egyptian vultures to leave, each one at its own pace. Two of them left the open cage within a few hours and the others after a few days. This is a good sign, indicating a quiet and non-stressful release. More than two weeks after their release, the Egyptian vultures still return from time to time to eat food that we leave out for them.
The photos show attachment of a satellite transmitter to one of the Egyptian vultures, the moment of release, and three Egyptian vultures that returned to eat on the roof of the cage.
And while we were at the height of our excitement from the release, we merited another significant event – a griffon vulture chick emerged into the world.
for those who are wondering what the excitement is about – the female griffon vulture lays just one egg per year!
The breeding program for griffon vultures comprises mainly individuals that are unable to survive in nature, but in the future their chicks will be able to be released, rear young and strengthen the natural population. The mature griffon vultures in the breeding program were taken care of and lived in optimal conditions for reproduction. They laid an egg that was transferred to an incubator in the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, and in its place an imitation egg, made of plaster, was placed in the nest. This week, we returned a chick to the griffon vulture couple. The imitation egg that they incubated was replaced with a one-day-old chick that was successfully accepted by its parents. In a few months, when the chick matures, we will transfer it to an acclimation cage close to the location of its release to nature, where it will get used to living conditions similar to those in nature.
It’s a great privilege for us to take part in the creation of a new generation of bird of prey populations, and the renewal of their populations in our region.