Griffon vultures in Croatia
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about vultures are probably cartoons where they are depicted as just waiting for the characters to die so they can swoop in and eat them – a bad omen circulating above their heads. Not good, not good at all. You wouldn’t think that they need your help, they don’t seem fragile or cute. It’s that kind of bad publicity that has gotten vultures into all kinds of trouble – they were hunted and killed just for being who they are. Our modern way of life, the abandonment of farming and cattle breeding and growing numbers of windmill farms are just a couple of reasons why these animals are going extinct!
Their primary source of food, animal carcasses (they don’t really like their food alive), has been scarce since they like living in rocky coasts or mountains, places that are being abandoned by livestock breeders. We mentioned windmill farms and you’re probably wondering how those eco-energy plants could be the culprits for the deaths of birds. Those rocky coasts and mountains where the Griffon vulture likes to live are the perfect spots for harvesting wind energy. The windmill’s sails are sharp and fast and can slice anything in a matter of seconds, and what gets too close to them gets either badly hurt or killed. A number of dead Griffon vultures were found in their vicinity, with food in their crop (throat pouch) stored for their young. During the egg’s incubation and the period before the young learns to fly, both of the parents take care of their little one and change places in their search for food, never leaving the young unattended. If one of the parents is killed, either intentionally or accidentally, the chances for the young to survive are slim to none.
Grifon – Birds of Prey Conservation Centre
Lucky for them, a non-profit association called Grifon – Birds of Prey Conservation Centre was founded to protect them. Their primary goal is more efficient work in the field of promoting nature protection and the conservation of Griffon vultures and other birds of prey. They work in cooperation with the Nature Park Velebit and are located inside the Park’s area – 5 km away from Sveti Juraj at the location called Crnika. They are certified for healing and caring for hurt, exhausted, poisoned or wounded, and also confiscated and expropriated birds of prey with the goal of their releasing back into their natural habitats. Since their founding they have successfully healed and released 126 Griffon vultures back into nature and ringed more than 930 of them. Their team of experts and volunteers works hard to keep the birds in their care (and those that are not) safe and healthy.
The Centre feeds the birds, heals them, monitors their presents in various nesting spots in the islands of Krk, Cres, Plavnik, Prvić and Pag, educates children and adults about the need for protection of the birds of prey, publishes books and brochures on that subject, cooperates with various experts and more. That all costs money that they mostly do not have. They rely on donations from companies and individuals like you and me – and every penny counts! You can donate as much as you want, but there’s something special they offer. For 200 HRK (around 27€/29$/19£) you can adopt a Griffon vulture! The bird will remain in their care (or fly free in the wild), but you can name it and the money you donate will be spent for the monthly worth of food it needs to survive and prosper. As we already noted, the Centre is non-profit, meaning that any amount of money (or supplies) given to them is invested into the birds’ well-being and care. You can also visit the Centre, learn about the birds and their way of life, view the exhibitions the Centre organizes in their location or even watch the magnificent events of releasing the birds back into nature if you’re lucky!
Every saved bird contributes the preservation of rare and endangered species such as Griffon vultures, Golden eagles, Short-toed eagles, White-tailed eagles, Peregrine falcons and others, and is of vital importance for the survival of species populations.
Dire financial situation
The Centre has contacted big companies and banks, written multiple projects and tried to get donations for the birds but have encountered closed doors and closed minds in their attempts. Their funding is getting low, and they too are on the verge of extinction. We all realize how important this is, and yet, when the media stops talking about it, we seem to forget it. It’s the circle of life, one species eats another to survive, but what happens when one species goes extinct? What happens to us when they all go extinct? Or will we be the ones that go extinct before other animals? I hope we never have to find out.
So please, help the Centre by donating!
The Centre accepts donations via Paypal, just visit their page http://www.supovi.hr/en/ and click the red “donate” button.