The Bearded Vulture Task Force, coordinated by the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Bird of Prey programme, has set out to safeguard against species extinction by supplementing dwindling wild populations through the establishment of a captive breeding program. This pro-active approach has been successfully accomplished in Europe with the northern hemisphere Bearded Vultures.
A study has been instigated for a scientific evaluation of the previous range of the species, and the potential of reintroducing a founder population into an ecologically viable environment in the previous home range. Historically, the Bearded Vultures breeding distribution in southern Africa extended from the Cape of Good Hope, all along the eastern mountain ridge of South Africa, and into Mpumalanga. The study will provide habitat selection assessments for reintroduction. Such efforts have been successful in Spain, and similar methodologies will be utilised in our study.
In areas deemed suitable for release, an education initiative will be undertaken in order to promote local knowledge, interest, and protection of the species.
The Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF) initiated a similar reintroduction programme in the European Alps, where the Bearded Vulture was regionally extinct. The first captive-bred bird was reintroduced in 1986, and now over 140 Bearded Vultures now soar free in the Alpine and Spanish Skies.