LIFE22-NAT-BG-Bearded Vulture LIFE-101113869
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The Bearded Vulture...
... the symbol of Bulgarian nature protection and disappeared from the territory of the country more than 50 years ago.
Also called the "costober" (from "costi" in Bulgarian means bones), the Bearded Vulture is one of the most majestic and unmistakable birds of prey.
The population of the species in Europe is estimated at 580–790 pairs, corresponding to 1,200–1,600 sexually mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).

The species
The Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) is widely and disjunctly distributed across the Palearctic, Afrotropical and Indomalayan regions, but is very rare in some areas and thought to be in decline overall (Ferguson- Lees and Christie 2001).

The Bearded Vulture is a beautiful, truly magnificent bird, the fact that it is considered extinct from Bulgaria and there are on-going efforts for its restoration and most of all, as it is considered the symbol of Bulgarian nature conservation /the emblem of a Bearded Vulture is placed on every protected area and tree in the country/. People still do not recognize the extreme economic and ecological benefits of restoring vultures. The threats for the species are fairly manageable and can be handled through awareness raising.

Conservation status
It is listed in Annex II of the CITES Convention, Annex II of the Bern Convention, Annex II of the Bonn Convention, European Conservation status: SPEC 3, BD. Ferguson-Lees et al. (2001) estimated the population to number 1,000-10,000 individuals, but in Europe the population is estimated at 580-790 pairs, which equates to 1,200-1,600 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).

This species is declining throughout its range with the exception of northern Spain, where the population has increased since 1986. Poisoning, both accidental and targeted, as well as habitat degradation, disturbance of breeding sites and collision with powerlines are considered to be the main threats (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Overall, it is suspected that the population has declined by 25-29% over the past three generations. Within Europe the population is estimated to be decreasing by at least 10% in 53.4 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015).

In Bulgaria it is considered Extinct EX, listed in Annex II and III of the Biodiversity Act. There were thought to be 2-5 individuals in the Macedonia-Greece and Bulgaria-Greece border areas at the turn of the century, however there has been a lack of records in these areas since 2005 (E. Stoynov in litt. 2011).


The species is affected by disturbance, illegal hunting, a reduced nutrition base, catching in traps, poisoning with baits for birds and mammals of prey and rodents poisoned by pesticides which it sometimes eats, reduction of the nutrition base, late sexual maturity, low breeding capacity.

Green Balkans is working on a long-term programme for its restoration into the wild, currently studying potentially suitable sites for release and changing perspective and attitude. At the time of the submission of the current proposal, there is no target funding for these efforts.

Educational activities
Green Balkans works on a long-term program for the return of the species to nature, which also includes changing the thinking and mood of society towards the species through information and educational campaigns throughout the country.

A symbol of Bulgarian nature protection, but disappeared from Bulgaria's fauna as early as the 60-70s, the former habitats of the Bearded Vulture in the country are protected areas of the ecological network Natura 2000.