Bird conservationists fight for a safe Adriatic Flyway

++ Bird migration in full swing ++ Numerous birds fall victim to poachers in the Balkans ++ Third Adriatic Flyway Conference meets in Serbia ++

In large swarms, waders and water birds migrate across the Mediterranean Sea on the Adriatic Flyway (in the picture: Dunlins). © Peter Sackl/Joanneum
Poachers lurk on the beaches or hidden in the reeds, like here in Montenegro. © Martin Schneider-Jacoby/EuroNatur
With decoys the bird hunters try to attract the animals exhausted from the journey. © Mihailo Jovicević

Radolfzell, Fruška Gora. The populations of many migratory bird species, particularly ducks and geese, decline in the Balkans, despite the fact that in other parts of Europe there’s a trend of population recovery. Participants of the third Adriatic Flyway Conference, which opened on Monday, 19th of March, in Serbian national park Fruška Gora, discuss the main reasons for this ongoing and partly dramatic decline.

Despite decades of efforts by nature conservation foundation EuroNatur and many achievements, still tens of thousands of migratory birds fall victim to gunshots. The Adriatic Flyway remains a gauntlet for the long-distance flyers. “The pace of decline of migratory bird populations in the Balkans is very worrying. We consider illegal killings, unlawful trade in birds, unsustainable hunting, and habitat destruction along the Adriatic Flyway to be the main causes. We call on the competent authorities to step up criminal prosecution”, says Gabriel Schwaderer, CEO of EuroNatur, in his inaugural address last Tuesday.

Poaching as well as habitat preservation along the Adriatic Flyway are among the main issues of the conference, which is organised by EuroNatur and its Serbian partner organisation BPSSS. “In recent years, several coastal areas have been concreted over, often illegally, and at the same time, near-natural wet meadows and bogs have been turned into lifeless agri-deserts. Many valuable stop-over sites went lost already. Politics finally has to take resolute action against nature destruction”, demands Stefan Ferger, EuroNatur project leader. Particularly threatened areas include Ulcinj Salina in Montenegro, as well as Karavasta National Park and the Vjosa-Narta Ecosystem in Albania.

Background information:

Adriatic Flyway: The water birds of Central, Northern and Eastern Europe concentrate on the so called Adriatic Flyway which leads them across the Balkans, the Adriatic Sea and Southern Italy to North Africa. Watch a short film about bird migration across the Eastern Adriatic here.
• The Adriatic Flyway conferences are an important forum for bird conservationists from all over Europe to exchange experiences and develop common projects. Find information about the first (2009) and the second (2014) conference.
• Further information about bird hunting in the Balkans.
• A joint resolution has been passed by all 73 participants yesterday evening (March, 22nd, 2018). Find the paper here.

Contact information: Christian Stielow, E-Mail: christian.stielow(at)euronatur.org, Tel.: +49 (0)7732 - 92 72 15

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