In the mid-20th century, vultures faced extinction in Europe’s mountainous regions, their natural habitat for two million years. Michel Terrasse has spent much of his life working to reverse the birds’ destiny.
The last griffon vulture disappeared from the Cévennes in the south of France over 60 years ago. Its cousin, the European black vulture, had deserted France a century earlier. A mixture of fear and ignorance had made these unjustly maligned birds a target for hunters. Attempting to repair the past, Michel Terrasse has been working for 35 years to return these magnificent birds of prey to their natural habitat. Their future now looks bright and 2,000 vultures of various species visit the Cévennes. Terrasse’s leadership has inspired others, resulting in recovery of the griffon vulture’s Europe-wide breeding population to around 30,000 pairs.
I can’t help getting involved. I am simply obsessed with preserving animals in their natural habitat, and birds of prey above all.
Vultures are now protected by law and a subject of enthusiastic interest for visitors and local residents. It took the sensitivity and perseverance of environmentalists such as Terrasse to make vultures the leading tourist attraction in a region straddling the Cévennes National Park and the Grands Causses Regional Natural Park.
The methods of Terrasse and his associates are used as a template worldwide for returning vultures to their natural habitats.
Around 30,000 pairs
Europe-wide griffon breeding population
25,000 to 30,000
Annual visitors to the Vulture Centre and Lookout in the Cévennes