Sad End for Kate, an Egyptian Vulture

Kate was one of 8 Egyptian vultures bred in captivity and released in Italy between July and August 2019.

The Association “CERM”(Centre for threatened birds of prey) and ISPRA (Higher Institute for the Protection of the Environment and Research) released these birds within the Egyptian Vulture LIFE Project to support the Italian population which has been dramatically declining these last few years.

The vultures were equipped with satellite transmitters to monitor their movements and allow a quick response to threats. The Vulture Conservation Foundation(VCF) provided 4 of these transmitters, including one for Kate.


After leaving the release zone on September 30th 2019, Kate flew towards the South and reached the western coast of Sicily on October 18th. Since then, she had been exploring the area to find food. She was Ceccolini’s great coordination who gave Kate’s location in real time to volunteers. Closely monitored by volunteers who protected her and brought her food as early as possible. The monitoring was made possible thanks to a satellite transmitter and CERM director Guido Ceccolini


Unfortunately, at the end of December, the GPS data showed that Kate, who was near Licata, was not moving any more.

On January 3rd 2020, ornithologists Agostino Cantavenera, Giuseppe Cantavenera and Andrea Ciaccio set out to look for Kate. The three volunteers found her body totally eaten by other raptors. What was left of her body was handed to the CITES Palerme forestry officers who had come on the site and who brought the body to the Experimental Zooprophylactic Institute in Palerme where they tried to determine the cause of her death.

The first X-ray showed no evidence of lead in the bones but Kate may, however, have been killed by a bullet. Another cause of her death could be she had ingested poisoned baits, but we have to wait for the results of the toxicological tests.

However, we definitely know that her death was not caused by electrocution or an impact against wind turbines as there are no such infrastructures in the area.


Western Sicily : a lethal trap for birds of prey.

Kate died after only two months in Sicily.

She is the fourth Egyptian vulture released by the CERM over years and equipped with satellite transmitters who are found dead or considered “lost” in western Sicily.

In 2018, another young Egyptian vulture released in Basilicate and named Clara knew a tragic end : she was killed in Trapani while migrating.

More than 111 000 signatures forced the authorities to intensify the anti-poaching fight and create feeding stations in protected zones.

The CERM handed the signatures to the Ministry of the Environment in May 2019 but is still waiting for an answer.

Western Sicily is a giant “black hole” for raptors who are heavily poached. Fighting against these illegal practices is essential, especially concerning the Egyptian vulture as it is the most threatened species in Italy.

What about the other Egyptian vultures released in Italy ?

Over the years, the VCF has provided satellite transmitters for many Egyptian vultures released by the CERM in Italy and they allowed close monitoring of their movements. Most of the birds are presently wintering in Africa.

Here are their activities in the last few months :

JJane and Diego were released during the summer of 2019 in Italy at the same time as Kate :

  • Jane flew over Malta on October 4th and went safely to Africa. She is wintering in Niger and Nigeria.
  • Diego flew towards Sicily 20 days after Jane and, so far, has not chosen to go to Africa but is exploring different areas in Sicily.

Sara and Tobia are the same age and were released in Italy in 2015 :

  • the two birds migrated to Africa after their release and only came back to Italy in 2019.
  • they started their new migration to Africa at the end of August 2019 : Sara is spending her fifth winter in Niger and Tobia has also successfully migrated to Africa. We hope to see them again in Italy for the breeding season next summer.

You can follow the movements of the Egyptian vultures equipped with GPS on the public maps online. Click : here


Source article (EN) :