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SPEA is an Environmental not-for-profit organization whose mission is to support research and conservation of wild birds and their habitats, by promoting sustainable development for the benefit of future generations.
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The mystery of Egyptian Vulture Douro's lost GPS transmitter


Recently, one of the adult Egyptian Vultures we’ve been following for the last two years showed some unusual activity which had us worried. Having travelled over 4,000km to get back to the Douro Canyon, had Douro suffered an injury? Was the bird in need of assistance?

Unusual movements


On Tuesday 7 May, Franziska Lörcher, the Vulture Conservation Foundation’s Scientific and Conservation coordinator realised from recent tracking data that Douro’s movements had reduced in recent days, and so asked the Vulture Conservation Foundation’s Alice Gama, who lives in the LIFE Rupis project area, to coordinate with local project partners for a field visit to the last recorded location as soon as possible. Antonio Monteiro from Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas responded immediately with two rangers from the Parque Natural de Arribes del Duero and travelled to the last location and managed to find the transmitter beneath some trees after a thorough search.

The state of the harness suggested that it had become detached and death or injury of the bird was thankfully not suspected. However, it was important that Douro's nest site was visited as soon as possible to confirm if the nest was still active, as absence of an adult bird might have indicated that Douro was dead or injured, requiring further investigation of the last recorded locations in case of a poisoning incident.

Found alive and well


Isidoro Carbonell, an ecologist responsible for monitoring nests of Egyptian Vultures and other species in sections of the Parque Natural de Arribes del Duero and surrounding areas, checked the nest soon after being notified of the lost transmitter and observed and photographed Douro alive and well incubating on the nest (identifiable from the coded leg ring).

This was a relief and provided a great example of cross-border communication and collaboration among project partners to closely monitor the tracked vultures.



Photo: ICNF





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