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Griffon Vulture breeds at Jbel Moussa, Morocco

Griffon Vulture started breeding again in Morocco following a very successful reintroduction trial at Jbel Moussa by the Moroccan Department of Forestry in cooperation with GREPOM.

Video showing vultures feeding at the ‘Jbel Moussa Vulture Rehabilitation’, and the mating of two Griffon Vultures at Jbel Moussa.

Watching Griffon Vultures mating and starting breeding for the first time ever at Jbel Moussa is a real joy. And that’s for several reasons, the most important of which is the ‘good news itself’ (more details will be released later).

Griffon Vulture bred in Morocco up until the 1980s, but the known colonies have been deserted and the species most likely extirpated in the country afterwards.

The breeding of Griffon Vulture at Jbel Moussa (and adjacent mountains) have never been confirmed in the past, however all the indirect indications suggest it did. For example, the species has been observed in the area all-year round, and importantly the conditions have always been right for the species. The latter is so true that even the Breaded Vulture, which is more selective, did breed at Jbel Moussa in the past (with evidence).

In 2017, five Griffon Vultures were released at Jbel Moussa by the Forestry Departement as a first step toward the reintroduction of the species into the wild.

Later in the same year, the Forestry Department started building the ‘Jbel Moussa Vulture Rehabilitation Centre‘.

Griffon Vultures mating at Jbel Moussa, northern Morocco, January 2021 (Jbel Moussa Vulture Rehabilitation Centre).
Griffon Vultures mating at Jbel Moussa, northern Morocco, January 2021 (Jbel Moussa Vulture Rehabilitation Centre).

Public-private partnership

In order to reinforce the released birds, the Forestry Department struck a deal with private zoos to bring adult Griffon Vultures to the ‘Jbel Moussa Vulture Rehabilitation Centre’ in order to release them after a period of acclimatization.

In June 2020, 10 adult Griffon Vultures were transferred from the Dream Village Park in Mohammadia to the Vulture Rehabilitation Centre. Carcasses were provided both inside and outside the vulture enclosure, so there have been many wild free-flying vultures around as well.

Since their arrival at Jbel Moussa, the behaviour of vultures has been monitored by the local branches of GREPOM and the Forestry Department.

And in January 2021, the highly expected event happened. The Griffon Vultures selected a nesting place and started mating (video below). The GREPOM and Forestry team continue to monitor the vultures in order, among other objectives, to assess the outcome of this breeding event.

Whatever the final breeding success, we can now say that the Griffon Vulture is breeding (again) in Morocco.

To be continued!

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