Scary spectacle in the Nerteva-Delta

Bird conservationists in action against poaching

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Ivana Šarić in the Neretva delta.

© Stefan Ferger/ EuroNatur

Ivana Šarić from Croatian nature conservation organization Biom reports a special night in the ornithological reserve of Prud. It was one of the rare occasions that a poacher has been caught in the reed labyrinth of the Neretva Delta – one of the most important bird habitats along the eastern Adriatic. Poaching is a huge problem there. 


EuroNatur: Did you know there were poachers hunting for birds that night?

Yes, definitely. The gun shots were omnipresent. You could hear them even from local restaurants and hotels.

EuroNatur: How did you assess your chance to catch one of the poachers?

On the morning of 6th December 2017 we were still a bit clueless on how to catch any poacher in the Prud ornithological reserve. The pressure was bigger given the fact that we had full support of the head of the Croatian nature inspection, that sent us a nature inspector to work overtime and during night. Furthermore, the nature inspector had told the police in advance to be on stand-by. So we really wanted to make this catch and show the police and nature inspection that it is possible to catch poachers in the maze of channels of Prud ornithological reserve and during the night. We knew that a lot of factors needed to come together in order to be successful: we needed to be there on an evening when they poach, we needed to spot them during the day to see which channels they would use and we needed a fast reaction by the police. I was personally not optimistic that this would happen. However when we saw a car parking near the channel and a person getting into a boat and then paddling to the poaching pond – we knew this was our night. 

EuroNatur: Have you been in danger at any time during the operation? 

We have always been looking at the poachers from a very good vantage point on a hill in the vicinity. From that hill you can clearly see the whole reserve and hear all the gunshots. It was never an option to go in the reeds because you don't want to pop into a poaching pond with two armed guys killing birds there. We would have probably done this if we crossed out all of the other methods, but thankfully it didn't come to that. 

EuroNatur: How cooperative did the police act?

Two police officers were very cooperative. They took the guy to the station immediately and we were treated with uttermost respect. Maybe this was because they know how difficult it is to catch poachers there, or because of the nature inspector. 

EuroNatur: Did the poacher offer resistance?

He got in the police car immediately. However when the police told him that he needs to spend a night in prison and is going to be criminally charged – he started resisting. I didn't see that, I just heard him through the closed door. Poachers are active every night in Neretva Delta and this was one of the rare occasions someone was caught in Prud. I think he just couldn't comprehend that all of this is happening.

EuroNatur: What’s the significance of this success for the fight against poaching of birds in the Neretva Delta? 

Our anti-poaching camps in the Neretva Delta are the first such actions in Croatia. In a country where at least 166,000 birds are being illegally killed each year, fighting poaching in the worst blackspot is extremely important. The nature inspection and police now see that it is possible to win this fight, even in a maze of reed. Nonetheless, a lot of work is in front of us – we still need to change the hearts and minds of people to condemn illegal bird killing nationwide. I am really looking forward to continue our work in the Neretva Delta. 

Thank you very much for the interview, Ivana!

The Interview was conducted by Katharina Grund

"Scary Spectacle in the Neretva-Delta" - read the whole story


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Report about Anti Poaching Camp in Neretva Delta (EuroNatur magazine 1-2019)

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