On Friday 12 May 2017, BirdLife Cyprus volunteers and staff, together with the Game and Fauna Service, carried out the annual spring census of the Griffon Vulture. The team of 20 observers covered eight look-out points spread across the vulture feeding range and known breeding and roosting cliffs, while the Game and Fauna Service set up cameras at the vulture feeding stations.
Although this year’s spring count was pretty quiet for most of the volunteers, we confirmed that the potential nest we spotted at Zapalo cliffs during the winter census in December 2016 was indeed active, with one chick seen in the nest. Even better than that, we observed a second nest at Zapalo cliffs, and a potential third nest was observed at Xeros Valley IBA.
After a year of no nesting recorded in 2016, and after the loss of seven vultures in autumn 2015 and winter 2016, this is very exciting news indeed for the Cyprus Griffon Vulture population. We are at a critical moment for the species, following completion of Έργο ΓΥΠΑΣ, a three-year project funded under the Cross Border Cooperation Program Greece-Cyprus 2007-2013, aimed at strengthening the vulture population in Cyprus with the translocation of birds from Crete. It appears that one of the two nests at Zapalo cliffs may belong to a Cretan bird. If confirmed, this would signal a hopeful legacy for Project GYPAS and things may start looking up for the Cyprus Griffon Vultures.
Nevertheless, BirdLife Cyprus continues to sound the alarm and to push the government authorities to take all necessary measures to protect our vultures and we stand committed to working with the authorities to combat the illegal use of poison bait in the Cyprus countryside, which is one of the main threats faced by the vultures on our island.
As always, we thank our team of dedicated volunteers for helping make the annual Griffon Vulture census possible.