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Griffon Vultures released at Jbel Moussa: first step for the reintroduction

The High Commission for Water, Forests and Desertification Control (HCEFLCD) in close collaboration with the National Zoological Park and GREPOM/BirdLife Morocco has released five Griffon Vultures into the Nature Reserve of Jbel Moussa on 7 February 2017. This release operation was intended by the Forestry Administration to be the basis for launching, in the long-term, of a reintroduction program of the Griffon Vulture in the region. The release was launched by the High Commissioner for Water, Forests and the Desertification Control Dr Abdeladim Lhafi with the Governor of Fahs-Anjra, the Governor of M’diq-Fnideq and the President of GREPOM Pr Mohamed Dakki (video below).

The vultures released during this operation were originated from the National Zoological Park (of Rabat) where they were under continuous veterinary control since they were received from the public (generally found after exhaustion).

For the post-release monitoring of the vultures, an agreement was signed between the Forestry’s Regional Directorate of the Rif (DREFLCD-Rif) and the partners involved including GREPOM. The agreement purpose was formalizing the commitment of each partner to the project. For example, the GREPOM team who has been active at Jbel Moussa for the last few years will be responsible for the scientific monitoring of the vultures at the site and at the vulture restaurant (see below). Given their experience with vultures in Morocco and at Jbel Moussa in particular, the GREPOM team was entrusted the leading role in the awareness-raising program on the protection of vultures and their important ecological role.

Centre for Raptor Rehabilitation and Vulture Feeding Station

A very important decision is made by the Forestry Administration to build a Centre for Raptor Rehabilitation and a Vulture Feeding Station (a.k.a. vulture restaurant) at Jbel Moussa. The first is very badly needed as there is no such centre in Morocco. As for the seeding station, it’s also needed especially when there are big concentrations of vultures at the site at some parts of the year (especially in late spring).

Wing-tagging training at the National Zoological Park

Before their release, the Griffon Vultures were already wing-tagged at the National Zoological Park on 31 January 2017. The wing-tagging was carried out by members of the Northwest Section of GREPOM, Rachid El Khamlichi and Mohamed Amezian, in the presence of the Director of the Zoo, Abderrahim Salhi who also assisted with the wing-tagging. During the same day, training and presentations about the handling of vultures, wing-tagging and its purposes were presented to a group of veterinary students and some staff of the Zoo by the mentioned GREPOM members and the President the association. The wing-tags were obtained previously from the IUCN-Med with the help of Alfonso Godino.

The codes of the released vultures are the following (white alphanumeric codes on black): M12, M13, M14, M15 and M16 (see photos).

Previous wing-tagging of vultures

We previously wing-tagged (using different colour and codes) five Griffon Vultures and one Rüppell’s Vulture, please see these blog-posts:

A Griffon Vulture saved and then wing-tagged and released at Jbel Moussa (MA1).

A Griffon Vulture wing-tagged at Jbel Moussa and later found dead at Tarifa, Spain (MA4).

A Rüppell’s Vulture wing-tagged and released at Jbel Moussa (M1).

Vautours fauves M13 & M14, Jbel Moussa, nord du Maroc (Rachid El Khamlichi)
Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) M13, Jbel Moussa, northern Morocco (Rachid El Khamlichi)
النسر الأسمر ‘إم14″ في محمية جبل موسى، شمال المغرب. النسر الأسمر يسمى خطأً بالنسر الأكلف أو النسر الملكي / Griffon Vulture M14 at Jbel Moussa.

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