Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus, Бородач, Մորուքավոր անգղ
Distribution and biological peculiarities in Armenia: The species is distributed across the mountainous regions of Eurasia and in Eastern Africa, however its density can be quite low in some areas. Armenia is inhabited by subspeciesG.b. aureus Hablizl, 1783. In Armenia the species breeds across the country, occupying wide variety of open and semi-open landscapes with deep gorges and high cliffs taking the elevation range from 600 to 2,200 m a.s.l. The species usually avoids dense forests, wetlands and bogs. Bearded Vulture is a year-round resident. It breeds in small caves and grotto, or on the covered cliff ledges, avoiding Southern face of the cliffs. Usually each pair changes its nesting place within the range of two kilometers, every 4-5 years (sometimes even after 2 years). Incubation period begins in January. Usually Bearded Vultures have one egg in the clutch, although the cases of laying two eggs are known. It should be mentioned though that in such cases only one nestling survives. The fledglings leave the nest in late May - early June. The principle food is medium to large size carrion, while its diet includes up to 85% of bones. There are reports of occasional consumption of tortoises, and also alive mammals.
Population dynamics: According to the last estimation, population of the species makes from 11 to 12 breeding pairs. Population trend during last ten years demonstrates stability, although in 2007-2009 at least one pair was definitely added in Southern Armenia. It appears that the species is able to find enough food throughout the breeding range, as in all the observed nests since 2003 the annual breeding success varies between 0.9 to 1. Appearance of new breeding pair can be linked to the opening of new poultry farm in Southern Armenia, which produces significant amount of waste. At current some threats to the breeding individuals are related to direct persecution for trophy or to have the animals as pet. Another possible threat comes from potential poisoning by heavy metals at municipal dumps, due to lack of separate garbage collection, which results in disposing the batteries, mobile phones and other devises, together with the food remains.
Conservation Measures: At current the breeding sites of the species are protected in Khosrov Nature Reserve, Zangezur Biosphere Complex, and Dilijan National Park. All the other breeding sites are included in the Emerald Network, protected under Bern Convention. The proposed conservation measures include continuous monitoring of the species - as very sensitive to environmental changes, review of the policy on trophy collection and having animals as pets, strengthening of inspection, improvement of the waste management at municipal dumps, and expansion of public outreach component.