By Andrew Atkinson
A vulture – a protected species – has returned to its natural environment, after landing at Alicante-Elche airport!
The Wildlife Control Unit (WCU) were called after being notified about the vulture’s presence that could pose a threat, to both outgoing and incoming aircraft.
The vulture flew in and perched on an aircraft jet-bridge, prior to flying on to the floor, and taking flight.
After an alarming decrease in vultures in the country the Spanish Government stepped in, and in recent years, authorised the farming community not to remove animal carcasses on farmland – in a bid to extend their natural food chain.
Vulture colony data revealed less than 200 birds of prey remained within the Alicante and Murcia provinces.
Following the authorisation vulture figures have increased, with data records revealing 600 birds currently.
The Duke of Westminster is a landowner in Spain, owner of the 32,000 acres Finca La Garganta estate, one of the largest hunting estates in Western Europe, located near the town of Conquista, on the border of Castilla La Mancha.
La Garganta is located in the rugged Sierra Morenain, in rural Ciudad Real province, Castile-La Mancharegion, Spain, situated between the town of Conquista and the hamlet of Minas de Horcajo, in Almodóvar del Campo.
The Estate includes the black Stork and Spanish Imperial Eagle, along with black, griffon and Egyptian Vultures and Golden Eagles.
Falconry has been found to be the most effective way of preventing possible bird-related incidents, in and around airports, as birds do not gather in the presence of their natural predators.
Alicante-Elche airport has employed Falconers since 2002, to patrol the runways with falcons, from sunrise to sunset, avoiding the presence of single birds – or flocks – which could put aircraft operations at risk.