The vulture man of Croatia
From Times Online
June 29, 2007
| Vulture in cage on Cres island Croatia|
The author travels by ferry from Rijeka, Croatia's biggest port, to the island of Cres and an unusual encounter
"Vulture man" is in fact named Goran Susic. The tourist board in London tipped me off about his work at a tiny eco centre on a hilltop in a village called Beli. From a crumbling old school house that was occupied by Italian forces under Mussolini, Susic runs an operation that helps conserve a surprisingly large local population of griffen vultures; which have become a tourist attraction since he set up his centre in 1993, bringing a trickle of visitors (and tourist visitor cash) to his out of the way operation.
A man with a greying beard, a t-shirt with a picture of a vulture on it and the slogan "WILDLIFE", cargo trousers and sandals is sitting at a desk in the front room next to shelves full of National Geographics. It is Goran. "Ah you have arrived!" he exclaims. "You have come to see our biodiversity! I will show you the biodiversity of the vultures!"
Goran loves his vultures. "It is the poetry of their flight: the poetry!" he says, leading us past a group of Italian children who are visiting to help repair stone walls and clear pathways on a series of nature walks. We enter a room with a large stuffed griffen vulture hanging gruesomely from the ceiling.
We are informed that the vultures can weigh 8-15kg and have wingspans of 240-280cm. "They can starve for up to three weeks and lose half their body weight, but then they must eat," says Goran. They eat birds, sheep and the odd donkey - and there are 75 pairs on the island. This is up from 25 pairs in 1993. Vulture couples stay together for 60/70 years.
Source: http://travel.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/travel/destinations/croatia/article2004886.eceFormatted for CROWN by Marko Puljiæ
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