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Home > NEWS > Current
The Dutch Ambassador became a Godfather and release a Griffon Vulture from… the Netherlands! [ 2011-07-28 ] print Bookmark and Share
On June 27th 2011 His Excellency Mr. Karel van Kesteren named one of the vultures, which arrived with a Bulgaria Air flight as a donation sent by the Dutch DierenPark Amersfoort. His Goddaughter is two-year old Griffon Vulture – K08, which now bears the name Giertje – small vulture.

Touched by the faith of the Dutch bird and to show additional engagement of the Kingdom of Netherlands in preserving our common European heritage and nature, His Excellency granted some money to become the first Godfather within the Vultures Return in Bulgaria LIFE08 NAT/BG/278 Project.

Mr. Kesteren visited the Wildlife Rescue Centre at Green Balkans – Stara Zagora to see where the bird was initially accommodated. Here His Excellency released a Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus), received from RIEW Ruse and successfully treated by the Centre staff. The Ambassador was really excited and grateful for the chance to become a part of the release of the bird.

After that Mr. Kesteren travelled to the adaptation aviary at Sliven to meet the Dutch his Goddaughter in “person”. Here, he was welcomed by the hosts: Mr. Ivanov- Director of the Sinite kamani NP and Mr. Kavrukov – District Governor of Sliven. At the site we also encountered two of the Griffons released back in October 2010.

Here Mr. Kesteren received a special naming certificate, where he wrote the name of his vulture – Giertje, together with a portrait of the bird and other gifts from Green Balkans and Sinite kamani NP. His Excellency released the Griffon Vulture K1T, which has been awaiting freedom for over a year and has hopefully well adapted to the environment of the Balkans. The bird did an amazing first flight, sent off by the moved Ambassador, the other official guests and media.

The family of the Dutchman Jan Willem van Rijn van Alkemade  – friends and donators of Green Balkans, who happened to visit Bulgaria at the same time, also joined the trip of the Ambassador.

Giertje is a female, hatched on March 31st 2010 in the Dutch Zoo of Amersfoort. She and her brother, hatched a year later, were granted by DierenPark Amersfoort to enter the programme for restoring Griffon Vultures as nesting species in the Balkan Mountains within the Vultures Return in Bulgaria LIFE08 NAT/BG/278 Project.
The two birds arrived with a regular flight of Bulgaria Air from Amsterdam, served by Flex Cargo on June 7th 2011 and were additionally marked and accommodated in the Wildlife Rescue Centre at Green Balkans – Stara Zagora. In Bulgaria Giertje was marked with a yellow PVC ring and wing tags K08.
On June 29th the siblings were finally separated – the female went to the adaptation aviary at Sliven, while her younger brother was accommodated in the aviary near the town of Kotel. Despite that, not everything is lost for them. There are several occasions of birds, released from Kotel, coming along to visit the Sliven aviary, so it is very likely that the family eventually reunites.

Until now a total of 12 Griffon Vultures have been released from the aviary of Sliven and six of them have stayed in the area, using the supplementary feeding site maintained by the project team. Other 11 birds, our present female character included, are currently awaiting their release in the adaptation aviary.

This is an excellent example for international cooperation, support and involvement. With the naming of the Dutch bird, the Vultures Return in Bulgaria Project is starting a wide-scale charity campaign for naming and adopting the birds involved in the project. The campaign aims at raising the public awareness and engagement in the vultures return and raising funds for purchasing transmitters in order to follow the behavior and adaptation of the birds following their release. Stay tuned about how to get involved, additional information will be available soon!

On behalf of the Vultures Return in Bulgaria Project, we would like to thank our first sponsor – the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Netherlands to Bulgaria – Mr. Karel van Kesteren and the second candidates – the Vanchevs family from Plovdiv!

We hope that more institutions and citizens will follow their lead!

For more information and inquiries, please contact:
Elena Kmetova – Project Manager : +359 885 219557; email:

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Baby Gertjie in Amersfoort The arrival of Gertjie in Bulgaria Ambassador van Kesteren in the Rescue Centre in Stara Zagora The release of a Long-legged Buzzard, successfully treated in the Rescue Centre
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Ambassador van Kesteren at the vulture adaptation aviary in the Sliven Nature Park The vulture before its first flight in the Bulgarian sky Free at long last! Mr. Kavrukov and Ambassador van Kesteren with the naming certificate of Gertjie

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