Release of Bearded Vulture in Vercors 2019 © Pascal Conche

LIFE GypConnect

Restoring the Connections between Bearded Vulture populations in the Alps and the Pyrenees Mountains

LIFE GypConnect logo
Initiative period September 2015 to July 2021
Initiative area France — Pre-Alps and Massif Central
Target species Bearded Vulture

The LIFE GypConnect conservation project aims to strengthen Europe’s Bearded Vulture population and secure the future of the species by reintroducing the species to south-east France.

Bearded Vultures were once found across the mountains of southern Europe, but over the course of the 19th and 20th Centuries, the population of this vulture crashed, disappearing from much of its range as a result of the decrease of wild herbivores, changes in farming practices and persecution by people. Thanks to dedicated efforts, the species has successfully returned to the Alps and the mountains of Andalucia in Spain along with these reintroduced populations the species is also found in the Pyrenees and in isolated populations in Crete and Corsica.  

Through the reintroduction of the species in the French pre-Alps and the Massif Central range, a new population will be created that will eventually act as a link to connect the populations in the Alps and the Pyrenees. 

Learn more about the target species

Reintroduction and Captive Breeding

Utilising our decades of experience of captive breeding we have been leading the reintroduction of birds to the release sites in the Parc national des Cévennes, Parc naturel régional des Grands Causses, Parc naturel régional des Baronnies provençales part of the Massif Central and Parc Naturel Régional du Vercors in the pre-Alps and as of 2019, we have released 27 birds into the wild. Find out more about our Bearded Vulture captive breeding programme and the methods we use to release birds into the wild.  

Bearded Vulture captive-bred chick at Vallcalent © Hansruedi Weyrich

Monitoring

To better understand this new population of Bearded Vultures we have been fitting the birds with lightweight satellite tracking devices to monitor their movements. These devices usually last between three and five years and send location data over the mobile communications network, providing us and our partners with valuable insight into any threats they might encounter as they explore their new home. Using this data we are also able determine if birds are moving between the Alps and the Pyrenees and achieving the project’s aims. Follow the Bearded Vultures released into the wild with our online maps.

Bearded Vulture with a GPS tag © LIFE GypConnect

Improving food availability

Encouraging the movements of Bearded Vultures between the two populations and the new population we and our partners are improving the availability of food resources in the Aude region, including the eastern foothills of the Pyrenees, the Corbières mountain range and the Montagne Noire in the south of the Massif Central range. Our project partners, LPO Aude are setting up networks of feeding stations, providing food from local abattoirs and butchers for birds as they travel between the two mountain ranges. 

© Bruno Berthemy

Tackling threats

Tackling some of the threats the reintroduced Bearded Vultures may face is vital to the success of this initiative. Our partners are carrying out work to insulate electricity power lines to prevent deaths from electrocution, working with local government agencies to map the most sensitive areas for the population to inform the development sites of wind farms that will help avoid deaths caused by collision with turbines, rescue distressed birds and tackle the illegal use of poison. 

© LIFE GypConnect
LIFE programme logo
Natura 2000 logo
MAVA Fondation logo
LPO logo
LPO Aude logo
Parc National des Cevennes logo
Parc naturel regional Vercors logo
Vautours en Baronnies logo
Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF) logo
Université-Pierre-et-Marie-Curie-logo
Centre-National-d’Informations-Toxicologiques-Vétérinaires logo
ENEDIS logo