Project for the protection of the Egyptian vulture Neophron percnopterus in Sicily

The Egyptian vulture Neophron percnopterus in Italy has considerable environmental, ecological and conservation value, since at present, only 8 breeding pairs have recently been surveyed in Italy, it is a species at critical risk of extinction, compared to the approximately 50 pairs present until the 1970s, and Sicily represents the region with the largest number of pairs (5-6). In the Madonie Mountains until the 1980s, the Egyptian vulture was present and nesting, while currently it is only sporadically sighted.

In some bird parks there are breeding pairs of this vulture, and individuals born in captivity in some cases are used for reintroduction or repopulation projects of this species.

Evolution has structured this bird with shapes and sizes that allow it, while feeding on carcasses found in pastures, on which these vultures feed, to feed especially on the debris left behind by other necrophagous animals.

Realizing a restocking project for the repopulation of this species in Sicily, would be extremely important from an ecological point of view, as it would curb the regional rarefaction of this vulture; considering also that these majestic animals represent an ecotouristic attraction, it would be of considerable importance as it would also contribute to the micro-economy of the Madonie countries.

In order to verify the feasibility of releasing these Egyptian vultures into the wild, naturalist and biologist experts from the Experimental Zooprophylactic Institute of Sicily recently developed a preliminary study, verifying the possibility of implementing a restocking intervention using the hacking method, locating in contrada Chiusa in the territory of the municipality of Isnello, near the cliffs of Balzo Trigna, which overlook the carnaio and aviary where the reintroduction of griffon vultures is currently being implemented in the Madonie Park, an area with all the characteristics to be able to place a release nest box, in which to implement the release of 1-2 young Egyptian vultures; the same preliminary study was submitted to Guido Ceccolini, of the CERM (Center for Threatened Raptors) in Grosseto, an expert in captive breeding of vulture vultures and their reintroduction into the wild, following precisely this method, who considered it suitable and gave his willingness to provide captive-born young vultures.

Ensuring the successful completion of this project to repopulate the Egyptian vulture in Sicily is the involvement of several entities that have already signed a scientific collaboration agreement for the reintroduction of Mediterranean vultures in Sicily in the Madonie Park, specifically: the Experimental Zooprophylactic Institute of Sicily, the Department of Land and Environment of the Sicilian Region, the Nebrodi and Madonie Park Authority, Rotary International 2110 district Sicily and Malta, the “Friends of Paul Harris” association, the Municipality of Isnello, STOR REMESA.

In view of the fact that at the Villa d’Orléans are maintained 7 Egyptian vultures, a pair and 5 offspring of this one, born over the past 15 years, the International Biodiversity Foundation of the Mediterranean, in collaboration with CERM (Center for Threatened Rapacious), made a request to the Presidency of the Sicilian Region to make pairs with the five offspring, using individuals of other origin, held in captivity, to carry out an aviary breeding project, in order to increase the number in the wild. The Sicilian Region has assented to the proposal and has asked to implement a memorandum of understanding, which is being prepared. The Foundation, for its part, has built two aviaries in the municipality of Isnello for the captive breeding of two pairs, built according to a model that provides for a total lack of interaction between humans and animals.

For more detailed information on the project to protect the Egyptian vulture Neophron percnopterus in Sicily, please download the relevant documents at the following links:

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