Working from Planckendael ZOO, curator Marleen Huyghe and researcher Philippe Helsen manage the EEP for the Cinereous or Eurasian black vulture (Aegypius monachus). Young born under the EEP were released in collaboration with the Vulture Conservation Foundation in Majorca, Spain, France and, recently, Bulgaria. The successful reintroduction and creation of a viable wild population demands a vast amount of expertise, consultation, strength of mind and patience.
Matching pairs is not always successful and the best approach can vary slightly between species. In recent years the black vulture EEP has focused on pairing and on studying the breeding success with this species. ZOO Planckendael took the initiative of setting up a European dating aviary where, under the supervision of Marleen Huyghe, birds can choose their own partners. This is essential to breeding success.
Over the years, our researcher Philippe Helsen has built up a unique collection of black vulture samples including specimens from the EEP population as well as both the natural and reintroduced populations. The DNA in these specimens is examined to gain more insight into the EEP as genetic back-up populations, the breeding success, and the role of the reintroduced animals during reintroduction projects.