Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Griffin Vultures of Croatia

First of all I nicked the photo above off the internet. I'm afraid that in my two weeks in Croatia I never got a decent picture of a vulture which is a bit daft as there were two cages with birds at the back of the eco centre I was staying in!

Appendum: I did take a photo of Koleda on my phone while feeding him so here it is:

A few facts about the Griffin Vultures of Croatia:

The griffin vulture is the second largest bird in Europe with a 3 metre wing span (its f"@king big!) and weighing 6-13 kilos. Its range goes from Spain in the West right through to India in the East.

In Croatia the birds are even bigger than normal weighing up to 15 kilos. This is because unlike nearly all other Griffin Vultures in the world the ones in Croatia nest on sea cliffs - sometimes very close to the water. Basically 10,000 years ago there were no islands of Croatia - just mountainous valleys. Then the Ice age ended and the Mediterrenian and Adriatic filled up with water.

So one morning 10,000 years ago Mrs vulture wakes up and goes; 'Adam and Eve! Who the hell left the tap on last night!' (Obviously they said this in Croatian not English and I know that the tap had still not been invented but you get the gist). So junior vulture and all his generations afterwards grew up having to fly out over the sea in order to get their thermals (that's hot air uplifts not warm underwear). As a result of this they have had become bigger than normal griffin vultures.

Now to the Eco Centre:

The Griffin Vultures of Croatia had been in steady decline in the 20th century due to various reasons and in the 90's only the Island to Cres had any birds remaining on it. Here too they were going to die out. So thats were the Eco Centre came to the rescue. It was established in 1993 and since then through its efforts the birds have gone from a low of 20 pairs to over 70 pairs. They have also started recolonising other nearby islands. If you have time checkout their site - its very good. Eco Centre

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