Protecting cranes in Serbia

Protecting Cranes in Serbia

© Milan Knezev
© Milan Knezev

Cranes cover vast distances on their way to their wintering places and on their way back to where they breed. This is why it is vital for there to be undisturbed resting places where the exhausted creatures can gather fresh energy for their further flight. One of the most important resting reagions  on the so-called Adriatic Flyway was created in the 1990s in the wetlands of Slano Kopovo in the North East of Serbia (Vojvodina). Here in Novi Becej the hunters refrained from hunting in an area of nearly 10 square kilometres - for the sake of the cranes. Today up to 20 000 of the elegant great birds rest there in spring and late autumn in this mosaic of dry grasslands and part boggy, part salty and seasonally flooded areas, the so-called salt marshes .



Water becoming scarce in the wetlands
In 2001 the Serbian Republic put 1000 hectares of the wetlands under protection as “ special  nature reserve in category 1”. The high degree of protection could not however prevent Slano Kopovo from running into serious danger a few years ago: the cause is the canal-construction works carried out in the 1950s in connection with the building of the Danube-Theiss canal. As a result the ground water level has gradually sunk and many meanders of the Theiss, of which Slano Kopovo is a part have one by one dried out. The threat is now that contact with the ground water could be cut off. In some years there was already no seasonal flooding of the low ground so that cranes and geese and ducks were not able to rest there. 



Rescue for the cranes' paradise

Working together with local partners  EuroNatur has put together a package of measures to save  this valuable rsting place for Cranes & Co. The results so far offer reason to hope that the cranes will be able to use Slano Kopovo as a place to recuperate from their long journey to the wintering areas in future, too.

 

What actions are EuroNatur and its partner organisations taking?

 

  • Creating data bases:  With support from EuroNatur local partners are registering and documenting the populations of resting cranes.
  • Extending the habitat: In a joint action with Eeconet Action Fund we are funding the hunting association of Novi Becej to buy up strategic areas of land and secure them for nature conservation. The goal is to enable a restoration of the hydrologic balance and set up extensive farming of the land.
  • Optimizing the habitat: In cooperation with our partners and the local nature conservation authorities we are developing and fostering appropriate measures for the restoration of the wetlands.
  • Protecting the habitat: The Novi Becej hunting association declared a hunting ban for the area years ago thus making the development of an internationally important resting place possible. EuroNatur will continue to support the hunters in the care and supervision of these internationally significant wetlands.


What we have so far been able to achieve - a selection of our successes:

 

  • The Serbian Nature Conservation Authorities have begun to restore the ground water balance in the protected area. Digging a linking channel to the River Theiss promises to help gradually bring water flow back to the areas which had fallen dry.
  • With the support of the Eeconet Action Fund we have been able to buy up a large part of the privately owned fields in the central section of the protected area and save them for nature conservation.
  • This acquisition enabled us to extend the core area and at the same time substantially reduce both disturbance to breeding and resting birds and use of fertilizers and pesticides.


Partners: Serbian and Vojvodina Nature Conservation Authority, Hunters Association of Novi Becej

Sponsoring: Eeconet Action Fund (EAF), EuroNatur doners and sponsors

 

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