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'Bone eaters' are back: Europe's largest vultures return to French Alps

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'Bone eaters' are back: Europe's largest vultures return to French Alps
Photo: Francesco Veronesi/Flickr
12:43 CET+01:00
Europe's largest vultures nicknamed "bone eaters" whom legend has it used to kidnap old ladies, can be seen soaring high over the French Alps once again after disappearing from the region in the early 20th century.
The bearded vulture, which once inspired fear among the population and according to legend was responsible for kidnapping old ladies and killing flocks of sheep, has made a successful return to the French Alps.
 
So while elderly ladies and sheep farmers might not be too thrilled, bird watchers will be over the moon.
 
After a 30-year campaign on the part of activists, the bearded vulture has been returned to the French Alps mountain range after the entire population was killed off by humans in the early 20th century.
 
A pair of the impressive birds was first introduced to the area from Afghanistan and Russia in 1987 and to the joy of bird enthusiasts, the couple finally produced an infant ten years ago, according to a report in Le Monde.
 
Today there are 13 pairs of bearded vultures living in France and 39 in the Alps region in total. 
 
Photo: AFP
 
But while people will no doubt be excited to see the majestic birds once again flying the skies around the Alps, the creature wasn't always greeted with such enthusiasm. 
 
With its impressive three-metre wingspan and red pupils, the bearded vulture once inspired fear among the population and according to legend was responsible for kidnapping old ladies and killing flocks of sheep.
 
However despite it's unusual (and somewhat creepy) appearance, the bearded vulture feeds exclusively on carcasses. 
 
Also going by the rather unflattering nickname, the "bone eater", the vulture is known for releasing skeletons in flight which sends them crashing to the ground. 
 
 
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