After 3 hours under the hot sun, rescued Cinereous vulture finally flew 50m before landing again

You did well, buddy!

Zhangxin Zheng | January 06, 2022, 04:22 PM

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Staff members from the National Parks Board (NParks) and Jurong Bird Park (JBP) attempted to release a Cinereous vulture back to the wild for a second time on Jan. 5.

This time, the team waited for around three hours under the hot sun for the bird of prey to take flight.

Photo by Lim Wei Xiang.

What happened to this vulture?

The vulture was first sighted with five other Himalayan griffon vultures at the Singapore Botanic Gardens in late-December 2021.

It was too exhausted and crash landed into a private residential estate near Farrer Road on Dec. 30.

On the same day, the vulture was rescued by NParks and was later sent to Jurong Bird Park for checks and recuperation.

The first attempt to set the vulture free on Jan. 4 was cut short due to a change in weather condition.

The vulture requires thermal uplift to take flight and soar in the sky.

Thermal uplift is weakened under cooler and cloudy weather condition as the air above the ground does not heat up as well to produce the convection currents.

The first attempt only lasted 30 minutes as a result and the vulture was brought back for further recuperation.

First time in flight since rescue

The next day, the authorities brought the vulture back to the grass patch again at around 2pm.

According to a joint statement by NParks and Mandai Wildlife Group, the two organisations assessed the weather to be ideal as the sky was clear and so they decided to attempt another flight test.

The vulture has been eating well and in healthy condition, the statement added.

Photo by Lim Wei Xiang.

After waiting for slightly over an hour, the vulture managed to fly for about 50 metre to an adjacent grass patch before landing.

Photo by Lim Wei Xiang.

Photo by Lim Wei Xiang.

Photo by Lim Wei Xiang.

The vulture could not sustain its flight and the staff members brought it back to the original grass patch for it to try flying again.

Photo by Lim Wei Xiang.

Screengrab from video taken by Lim Wei Xiang.

Screengrab from video taken by Lim Wei Xiang.

Close to 5pm, the team decided to call it a day due to a change in weather condition and the vulture was brought back to JBP.

Vulture going back to JBP with a keeper who was pretty sunburnt after hours under the sun. Video by Lim Wei Xiang.

Will find another opportunity to release the bird

While the vulture only flew a short distance, NParks and Mandai Wildlife Group said that this is "promising" as the bird has not been observed in flight since its rescue.

The two organisations will find another opportune time to release the bird when the conditions are suitable, so that it can resume its migratory movement.

Photo by Lim Wei Xiang.

More about Cinereous vultures

Cinereous vultures are native to Europe and northern Asia.

They can usually found around forested areas in hills and mountains,

The species usually winters to northern India, the Middle East and occasionally South Korea. Hence, individuals sighted in Southeast Asia, like this rescued vulture, are vagrants who go off course from the usual migratory pathway.

Like most vultures, the Cinereous vultures are scavengers that feed primarily on animal carcasses. They are also unlikely to prey on people or live animals.

NParks and Mandai Wildlife Group advised members of the public to stay calm and keep a distance if they ever encounter a vulture.

They should not approach, provoke, or feed the animal, the authorities added.

The public can contact NParks at 1800 471 7300 or wildlife rescue charity Acres at 9783 7782 to report the encounter.

Top images by Lim Wei Xiang.