A lot of people who have visited Fuerteventura can boast of having seen an impressive bird overflying the majorero sky. This is “El Guirre”, name which is given to the Egyptian vulture in The Canary Islands. This bird doesn’t go unnoticed if you come across him, as it is a huge bird, over one and a half meters wingspan, easy to recognize because of their white body, yellow face and a wide black stripe on their wings. Watching one of those specimens with open wings gliding the sky is a startling show.
The Majorero “guirre”
n ancient times “el guirre” inhabited all the islands in the Canary Island archipelago, but the demographic growth and the landscape changes in the last century made the population decrease until in the nineties it got reduced to one hundred and just in a few locations in Fuerteventura and a couple of specimens in Lanzarote.
This species is so used to the conditions of the island that there is an endemic sub-species of Fuerteventura with its own characteristics, “el guirre majorero”.
Along history, “el guirre” has been deeply linked to the culture of Fuerteventura through their livestock activity, as they have played and important role in the territory clean-up, feeding on dead animals and avoiding spreading diseases and water pollution. There are even stories, transmitted orally, which give this kind of vulture a magic role in the life of the aborigines who inhabited the island before being conquered by “los majos”.
Some years ago, coming across a “guirre” was quite improbable. There were very few of them. The species became an endangered one, just about one hundred specimens in Fuerteventura and a couple of them in Lanzarote made up the whole colony. Luckily, the institutions of The Islands’ concern in their preservation together with the support from European entities through the project “Life” for almost a couple of decades have made it possible that the majorero sky is again the domain of the sleek “guirre”.
Nowadays the maximum population in Fuerteventura is said to have been reached. These birds have colonized the whole of the island and they are even spreading to Lanzarote.
In spite of still being an endangered species, this danger has been diminishing little by little in the last fifteen years. Fortunately, nowadays if you visit Fuerteventura you have many possibilities to spot some of these beautiful vultures.
Nature lovers, inhabitants of Fuerteventura, the visitors…are in luck, as it seems that “el guirre majorero”, this unique species in the world, will keep dwelling among us.