Vultures’ position at the top of the trophic pyramid and particularly their diet on carcasses makes them “nature’s purifiers”, preventing the accumulation of dead biomass and the transference of infectious diseases to animals and humans.
Their presence in Europe is linked to livestock breeding, as dead livestock is a precious food source. Thus, vultures know where they may find food other than carcasses in the wild. The reduction of free-range livestοck in combination with the implementation of strict veterinary legislation and sanitary rules led to shrinkage of food resources for vultures that negatively affected their populations.
In order to increase food availability for vultures, simulating natural processes as much as possible, the Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli Forest National Park runs a supplementary feeding program since 1987, throughout the year, on a weekly basis. The supplementary feeding program is supported by the department of Environment and Hydro-economy of the Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, which is in charge of receiving, transporting and placing the food in the feeding stations. The feeding is done with animals that have already died in farms and are transported to the feeding stations.
The National Park holds three fenced supplementary feeding stations (at the sites “Dadia”, “Dervisi” and “Lofos”) which comply with the operation regulations of feeders, as set out in the European Regulation 2003/322. The responsibility for observing the enforcement of operation regulations lies in the local veterinary services depending on the geographic location of the Evros prefecture where the food is transported. Each feeding is accompanied by relevant documents (commercial document, certificate of washing and disinfection of the car and trailer and a form of laboratory examination for TSE (Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy)).