Les Grands Causses
Crédits : Raphael Néouze
In the Grands Causses, there are 2 LIFE GYPCONNECT operators:
Over the last 30 years, LPO Grands Causses (LPO France branch) has initiated reintroduction and conservation programs for local vultures jointly with the Parc National des Cévennes and more recently with the Parc Naturel Régional des Grands Causses.
All conservation actions in favor of vultures require in-depth knowledge of their populations. This is why it is essential to closely monitor how vultures breed, their movements, their feeding habits and the overall evolution of their colonies.
Within the framework of the LIFE GYPCONNECT program, LPO Grands Causses pools the knowledge and experience acquired from past reintroduction programs. This is why LPO Grands Causses is in charge of preparing release sites and Bearded Vulture releases. At the same time, LPO GC coordinates the actions associated with the feeding resources specific to the Bearded Vulture. Furthermore, LPO Grands Causses works closely with ERDF on identifying the dangerous power lines and securing them. It is also involved in actions aimed at reducing threats and/or disturbances and rescuing birds in distress. LPO Grands Causses is a major contributor to communication, awareness-raising and education campaigns for local populations and tourists, schools and socio-professional groups. Lastly, LPO Grands Causses supervises the administrative, technical and financial management required to ensure the effective and complete implementation of the LIFE program.
Two conservation actions of the LIFE program involve the preparation of release sites and operations for the Bearded Vulture. Since 2012, LPO Grands Causses has created and uses 2 different sites (one in Aveyron and the second in Lozère that have been prepared in compliance with the criteria set by the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF), and in particular:
Both sites have been approved by the VCF experts and permits have been requested from the local authorities concerned. Furthermore, the preparation of the sites must take into account the ecological criteria and requirements specific to the species.
A third site is to be identified if one of the 2 existing sites becomes obsolete.
Within the scope of LIFE GYPCONNECT, bird release operations are launched from the Massif Central to the Pre-Alps. LPO Grands Causses will release Bearded Vulture juveniles every year in the communes of Meyrueis or Nant. The medium-term goal is the stationing of individuals and the formation of new pairs and thereby, a new core population.
As in past years, Bearded Vulture juveniles, bred in captivity, will be moved to the release site and surveillance implemented to study their behavior and state of health and to monitor early months of flight. An observation post is to this end installed close to each site. The juveniles will also receive food and water regularly.
LPO Grands Causses is in charge of conservation measures applicable to the food resources of the vultures: managing graves and collecting rendering resources; creating feeding sites on breeder properties; working jointly with all breeding bodies to hone the legislation on rendering in favor of the vultures and breeders, and controlling food resources.
Within the context of LIFE GYPCONNECT, the Massif Central unit works on the creation of 2 to 4 natural rendering sites; 2 to 4 specific feeding sites for Bearded Vultures and from 1 to 3 natural rendering areas in addition to existing sites. The breeders supply natural rendering sites with food resources by giving carcasses from their own herds. Although site operations and maintenance do not require the assistance of LPO Grands Causses, the unit is nonetheless in charge of monitoring the number of Bearded Vultures on the sites.
As regards the « Bearded Vulture specific feeding sites », they will be created at the start of the LIFE GYPCONNECT program. The sites will be supplied with 15 to 20 kg of bones three times a month, throughout the program.
LPO will support LPO Hérault and LPO Ardèche in deploying these actions in their territories.
LPO Grands Causses and ERDF plan to list and prioritize the most dangerous installations and power line sections in the LIFE area in Aveyron and Lozère. The listing will help to detect all risky installations and to determine the most dangerous for birdlife and large raptors in particular.
The outcome of these operations will determine the work required to neutralize the dangerous power lines. Anti-collision and/or electrocution devices will be installed (detection markers, spirals…).
LPO Grands Causses focuses on implementing actions to reduce the threats facing large raptor species, including the Bearded Vulture, and also rescues birds in distress.
LPO Grands Causses supports surveillance, combat and threat reducing actions to reduce mortality due to human activities (poisoning, collisions with windfarm installations…).
In its territory, LPO Grands Causses implements actions to protect the species from threats and disturbances by ensuring peaceful breeding, resting and feeding sites for the vultures. To this end, and to attract breeding pairs, LPO GC works jointly with wildlife stakeholders, to limit and eradicate the sources of disturbances from human activities (pedestrians, outdoor sports, hunting, fly-overs…).
LPO Grands Causses coordinates the application of adapted procedures, such as protocols to support managers in the Pre-Alps, Massif Central and Aude in making the right decisions and in coordinating the rescue operations for Bearded Vultures in distress (wounded, ill, exhausted or juveniles fallen from the nest), via a network of competent professionals and nearby rescue centers, habilitated and equipped to tend to Bearded Vultures and therefore to contribute to the program and to collaborate with the beneficiaries.
Within the framework of LIFE GYPCONNECT, LPO Grands Causses organizes communication and awareness-raising campaigns on past action plans for specific audiences. However, the vocabulary of the LIFE’s pedagogical tools will need to be carefully selected to mirror the results of the sociological survey on how the public perceives the Bearded Vulture (Action A7).
The Parc national des Cévennes, now among the ten national parks in France, covers 3 regions: Lozère, Gard and Ardèche. This park is the only one located in a mid-mountain range and the only one with a significant and permanent core population. Its main mandates focus on knowledge collection and biodiversity conservation, supporting sustainable development in the territory, public awareness-raising and education campaigns.
Founded in the 70s, with the view to enrich and preserve local biodiversity, the park has conducted many successful reintroduction operations in favor of the species: the reintroduction of Griffon and Black vultures, and of the Bearded Vulture since 2012, jointly with LPO. This approach is maintained to this day and contributes to the implementation and consolidation of LIFE GYPCONNECT, as well as to the consistency of national and European operations.
The PNC mainly contributes to the following operations: