This is the moment zookeepers catch an endangered Egyptian vulture to release it into the wild as part of a conservation project to help the species’ numbers.
Video footage shows an unnamed zookeeper from Schoenbrunn Zoo in the Austrian capital Vienna catching nine-month-old Andi with a net and her own hands.
Video Credit: CEN/Schoenbrunner Tiergarten
The Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) was then handed over to the conservation organisation Green Balkans, which will soon release the bird into the wild in the Rhodope Mountains in Bulgaria.
The resettlement project ‘Egyptian Vulture – New Life Project’ started in 2017 and plans to reintroduce the bird species in the mountainous area along the border with Greece.
Schoenbrunn Zoo director Dagmar Schratter said: “In the Balkans, the situation is grave for the Egyptian vulture. Over the past 30 years, its numbers have fallen by over 80 percent.
“Currently there are only 70 breeding pairs left. We are proud to be part of this important project.”
In Bulgaria, Andi will be released into a large free-flight aviary where he will meet other young vultures.
In May, the aviary will be opened and the younglings will join the adult vultures following an initial ‘soft release’ period.
Zookeeper Regina Riegler said: “The experienced vultures should take the younger birds to their African wintering grounds in the autumn.”
The Egyptian Vulture is the smallest of the four European vultures, however with a wing span of just under six feet, the bird is still very impressive when in flight.
The vulture, which is classified as endangered, can be found in southern Europe, northern Africa and as far as the Indian subcontinent.
Egyptian vultures can use pebbles to crack open other birds’ eggs to eat and can even roll up twigs for their nests.
The name of the Egyptian vulture comes from the Greek mythological story of two friends, Neophron and Aegypius, who were changed into vultures by Zeus.