Pair of Bearded vultures in France’s Vanoise National Park desert nest containing chick because of human disturbance.

Photo Bruno Barthemy
Photo Bruno Barthemy

Four pairs of bearded vultures now occur in Savoie (French Alps), and all was set for them to raise one chick each this season– a record number of chicks in the region. Bearded vultures went extinct in the Alps in 1913, but started to be reintroduced there in 1986, in a project co-managed by the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF), and still on-going.  As a result their population has been slowly increasing across the mountain chain, now totalling 30 pairs.

Unfortunately, a pair nesting near Peisey-Nancroix, in the Vanoise National Park, France close to the Italian border, failed the breeding this year, abandoning a 3-week chick in the nest after three speed-riders flew repeatedly nearby causing disturbance to the breeding pair. The incident was observed by two birdwatchers, who have also managed to take several photographs of what took place – as a result the speedriders are now facing a judicial proceeding by the French authorities.


Bearded vultures are a protected species, and it is illegal to disturb their nesting. Further, the Vanoise National Park issues every year detailed recommendations about their nests, and the outdoor activities potentially impacting on them, widely distributed through the press, the park´s website and specialized channels. According to the Park rules, Speedriders and other outdoor practitioners should not enter within a 700 m radius around bearded vulture nests.

Unfortunately this was ignored on this occasion by these three speedriders – as a result one less bearded vulture will be flying this year in the Alps. The speedriders have pleaded guilty, and the court case is still on-going


Vulture Conservation Foundation

2 comments to Pair of Bearded vultures in France’s Vanoise National Park desert nest containing chick because of human disturbance.

  • Very sad. Can someone please explain what speedriders are/do?!

    Editor’s Comment. Dave, we believe they are talking about ‘hang gliders’, but we are not entirely sure.

  • Nigel Deacon

    “Speedriders” is a translation referring to the flyers of “speed wings.” These are essentially small paragliders (NOT hang gliders) that are designed to be flown fast and low, close to the terrain, rather than soaring above the hill or thermal flying cross-country like hang gliders and conventional paragliders.

    Editor’s Comment. Thanks Nigel, we did wonder about that.