Northern bald ibis returns to Switzerland after 400-year absence

Northern bald ibis returns to Switzerland after 400-year absence

Last week, ornithologists and wildlife experts in Switzerland made a miraculous discovery: a pair of northern bald ibises were seen nesting in the country for the first time in 400 years. The vulture-like endangered species were originally hunted for their meat, before they disappeared from Central Europe completely hundreds of years ago. 

Northern bald ibis not seen in Switzerland for 400 years

A pair of the birds, which look like a cross between a vulture and a spoonbill, were recently spotted in Rümlang near Zurich Airport. The endangered creatures were discovered nesting on the windowsill of a motorbike garage in the municipality, SRF reported. 

The last time the northern bald ibis was seen in Switzerland was during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The bird, which is also known as the Waldrapp, will soon be given even more places to inhabit in Switzerland, as from 2024, the first migrating northern bald ibis colony will be founded near the Goldau nature and animal park in Canton Schwyz. 

Waldrapp only found in Morocco until recently

For a long time, the birds were thought to be on the brink of global extinction, with the species only found in Morocco. Now, while the birds are still classified as an endangered species, it seems that Switzerland could become their new home in the heart of Europe.

According to SRF, a team led by biologist Johannes Fritz is committed to reintroducing the bird to Switzerland. He says the newly spotted birds are a pair that are breeding for the first time, so he is optimistic that they will successfully rear young in the country for the first time in 400 years.

Emily Proctor


Emily Proctor

Emily grew up in the UK before moving abroad to study International Relations and Chinese. She then obtained a Master's degree in International Security and gained an interest in journalism....

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