In an ambitious effort to restore the majestic Cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus) to its historic home, a collaborative reintroduction project has been launched in Spain’s Iberian Highlands. Once a common sight, this magnificent scavenger bird faced decline and extinction in the region due to shrinking forest habitats a century ago.
Organised by the Castilla-La Mancha regional government and Alto Tajo Nature Park. The initiative is a joint endeavor between Terra Naturalis association and Rewilding Spain. The project involves the reintroduction of the Cinereous vulture with seven individuals recently released after a meticulous seven-month acclimatization period in an aviary. These birds, equipped with GPS transmitters, are now becoming acquainted with their new environment.
The caballo serrano, also known as the “Serranía de Guadalajara horse,” is a breed native to the central Iberian Peninsula, specifically the mountainous region of the Serranía de Guadalajara. This breed has played an important role in local rural culture for centuries.
The caballo serrano is a small, robust horse with a thick, wiry coat that is well-suited to the harsh mountainous environment of its native region. They are known for their sure-footedness and endurance, as well as their ability to thrive on sparse vegetation.
Unfortunately, the breed has become endangered due to the introduction of more modern horse breeds, better suited to agricultural and transportation purposes. In recent years, however, there have been efforts to preserve the breed, including through reintroduction programs like the one being carried out here in the Alto Tajo region.
News report (In Spanish) as wild horses return to the Alto Tajo
Wild horses return to the Alto Tajo to become an important part of habitat control and ecosystem development
The reintroduction of the caballo serrano to the area is not only important for the preservation of the breed, but also for the ecosystem, as they will help to maintain and improve biodiversity, prevent forest fires, and contribute to a more sustainable and balanced environment.
The natural grazing will help to eliminate excess vegetation throughout the year. The specimens live in semi-liberty, on a 200-hectare plot of land that will gradually expand to 1,500 hectares as the herd grows.
Renaturalization can be a development driver for the area, creating direct jobs and attracting a niche of tourism that is still underdeveloped in the area, such as nature observation.
Rewildling the Iberian Highlands
The Iberian highlands, which are part of the Iberian System, have become the tenth landscape of Rewilding Europe working to improve natural grazing, restore wildlife populations, and reintroduce horses and kulan (wild donkeys). This will translate, as they expect, into an increase in biodiversity that will benefit scavenger species such as vultures and create conditions for the return of carnivores such as the Iberian wolf and Iberian lynx. Read about the Iberian Highlands rewilding project here: https://wildsideholidays.co.uk/the-iberian-highlands-rewilding-project/
The Alto Tajo Natural Park
The Alto Tajo Natural Park located between the southeast of the Guadalajara province and the northeast of Cuenca is famous for its canyons and gorges formed by the river Tagus and its tributaries. (The most extensive river gorge system in the region and one of the most important in Spain, with a great geological, botanical and fauna diversity. Read more here: https://wildsideholidays.co.uk/alto-tajo-natural-park/