On July 12, three bearded vultures were seen in the Mgoun region. Ismail El Allaoui, a teacher, an aficionado of nature and a member of several bird groups has tripled one of his most cherished wishes. He was able to observe a bearded vulture in the wild in Morocco.
This is not one bearded vulture sighting but three simultaneous observations that Ismail El Allaoui had the chance to make this July 12 in the area of Mgoun! Equipped with binoculars and his acquaintance with the raptors of the kingdom – of which he is particularly passionate – Ismail spent several days walking in the region of Mgoun before making the meeting he hoped so much.
“I have in the past already observed a few individuals. However, it is the first time that I observe three at the same time. I followed them for long minutes with my binoculars. I could not take good photos to immortalize the meeting because I had only my binoculars and my smartphone. There were two, however, to observe the three individuals. A Swiss tourist (in blue on the picture) has recognized the species that also lives in Europe. “
The bearded vulture: a species on the verge of extinction in Morocco
According to the book “Birds of Morocco” published by the Ornithological Group of Morocco (Groupe ornithologique du Maroc), “the bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatur barbatus) is a sedentary breeder very rare – and on the verge of extinction – on the most remote heights of the High Atlas». The vulture is huge with a wingspan that can reach 3 meters. It is the last one to feed himself in a carrion after the other “cleaners”: fond of bones, the vulture can swallow some that can reach 20 cm. For larger ones, the vulture has a technique: it flies high by lifting the bone and then releases it so that gravity and the force of the fall break it into several small parts that it can swallow without problems. Rather than face other scavengers, including Griffon vultures or big crows, it can wait a long time before approaching the carcasses. It is the only one able to feed on what remains after the others came.
Bearded vultures are extremely rare and considered critically endangered in Morocco. The size of its Moroccan population is very small (few couples). The threats of poisoning and disruption that it undergoes, seriously threaten the survival of the species in the kingdom. “455 data for bearded vultures in Morocco were compiled in a database. These data come from both the bibliography and observations, partly produced by a network of observers, collected between 1905 and 2009. They show a significant regression of this species, which gradually disappears from the majority of Moroccan mountains (Rif, Middle Atlas, the central plateau, the Saharan Atlas, the Anti-Atlas and a large part of the High Atlas). “