A warm welcome to “Primo”! The Porto Conte Nature Reserve plays host for the first time to the nesting of a pair of Egyptian vultures
The Egyptian vulture born on the cliffs of Punta Cristallo in Alghero could only ever have been given one name: “Primo” (Italian for First). This is an exceptional event: in the whole of Italy, there are very few birds of this species, and only over the past few months has a pair established itself in the Porto Conte Nature Reserve. The birth of a chick – a first for Sardinia – confirms that the island is becoming attractive for this species, as for so many others. The Egyptian vulture is considered one of the most endangered species out of all those nesting in Italy, and its numbers have decreased markedly throughout the world.
Primo’s birth and subsequent taking flight were observed by the “Life Under Griffon Wings” project group, which is carrying out important conservation work in this area on the small griffon colony. This is an unexpected result and is due to three factors: the reopening of the historic charnel house managed by the Forestas Agency; the commitment of the Nature Reserve towards preventing human disturbance through specific legislation; and the promotion of a Code of Ethics on nature photography. The monitoring of the nest was conducted by a team from the University of Sassari, working in partnership with the Alghero branch of the Italian Bird-Protection League (LIPU) and the associations that have traditionally worked to safeguard the griffon vulture. Since last March, the pair of Egyptian vultures has been regularly frequenting the area between Prigionette and Punta Cristallo. Over the course of the summer the behaviour of the two birds, observed through the use of camera traps, had fostered hope of finding a nest, which was subsequently located at Punta Cristallo.
In recent weeks, the chick has finally been observed, and it has even been seen taking flight. As the project managers explained: “At a time in which Sardinia has seen a number of negative events, nature has sent out a signal that is too strong to be ignored. It is a message that has been sent out to all Sardinians: we can regain what we have lost. We are seeing it with the griffon vultures – we had not recorded so many taking flight in Sardinia for many a long year. This result has been achieved thanks to the project partners, breeders, ASL veterinary service providers and volunteers, all of whom have played their part in monitoring the species. On this occasion, the input of the Porto Conte Nature Reserve has been essential”. The “Life Under Griffon Wings” project, funded as part of the new LIFE 2014-2020 Programme for the Environment and Climate Action, works in partnership with the Municipality of Bosa, the Forestas Agency and the Sardinian Forestry and Environmental Monitoring Agency, and benefits from networking operations with the Junta de Andalucia and the Vulture Conservation Foundation. Moreover, it collaborates with the regional offices of the Departments of Environmental Defence, Health and Agriculture, the Sardinian Experimental Institute of Zooprophylaxis and the Porto Conte Nature Reserve.
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