Griffon vultures on Cres get new “hospital”


Representatives of the Fund at the closing conference of an EU Project “Improvement and increase of the capacities at Beli Rescue Centre for Griffon Vultures and Beli Visitor Centre”.

Wounded and sick griffon vultures will now be able to get faster and better first aid at the Beli Visitor and Rescue Centre. As part of the project, interior and outdoor dwellings for intensive care of the griffon vultures were built, and the required diagnostic and laboratory equipment was purchased.

The new griffon vultures’ “hospital” is highly important for the young griffon vultures that fall into the sea from their nests during their first flights. “The Beli Rescue Centre takes in the griffon vultures that are found hurt, sick, exhausted, or poisoned, with the aim of their recovery and return back to nature. The rescue centre is an example of how systematic cooperation of the state and local authorities with the local community can contribute to preserving a strictly protected species,” said Sanja Jelačić, the head of Intermediate Body level 2 at the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund.

“With targeted investments of EU resources, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development enabled all wildlife recuse centres in Croatia to improve the conditions for taking care of the wildlife. As of 2017, rescue centres have been officially recognised as places with professional and educated staff, whose daily works entails rescuing endangered species. Apart from this, two years ago legal conditions were put into place under which rescue centres get financial resources for taking care of the wildlife, which made their task easier,” said Mario Šiljeg, PhD, state secretary at the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development.

In Croatia, there are 11 authorised wildlife rescue centres, with the one on Cres being the only specialising in griffon vulture. The director of the Public Institution “Priroda” Irena Jurić said there were 125 griffon vulture couples nesting in the Kvarner area, and the majority were building nests on the rocky cliffs of island Cres. “Over a period of one year, 10 birds on average, mostly fledglings, are saved from dying. After we take them in, griffon vultures get a new chance to continue their life in the wild, so we can admire these magnificent birds, whose wingspan can reach 2.8 meters, in their soaring flight on air currents looking for sheep carrion. Since griffon vultures are finding less and less food in the nature, we’re helping them with supplementary feeding stations,” explained Jurić.  

At the conference, the mayor of Primorje-Gorski Kotar County Zlatko Komadina said they were committed to safeguarding the rich biodiversity, with special attention on the strictly protected species. “The Public Institution “Priroda”, with support from Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, has been managing the griffon vulture rescue centre since 2016. Life on an island has many challenges, not only for the people but for animals as well, so this project will make the recovery of injured griffon vultures faster and more successful, and it will surely have a positive impact on their population,” said Komadina.
Marin Gregorović, the mayor of the town of Cres, pointed out that the citizens of the Kvarner Islands not only appreciated the largest birds on the Adriatic, but they  were always willing to help.

The project “Improvement and increase of the capacities at Beli Rescue Centre for Griffon Vultures and Beli Visitor Centre” was co-financed by the European Union from the Cohesion Fund and by the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund. The figures demonstrated at the closing conference showed the total value of the project amounted to HRK 887,831.51, with the EU grant amounting to HRK 754,656.78, the Fund providing HRK 108,939.98, and Primorje-Gorski Kotar County allocated HRK 200.000 for the bird flight training facility.