Dangerous journey to the wintering grounds

Bird hunting on the Balkan Peninsula is threatening also the German breeding populations of the black-tailed godwit.

© Jürgen Schneider

EuroNatur calls for better protection of migratory birds on the Balkans

Press release, 13 August 2014

Radolfzell. It’s bird migration time again. Swift, common snipe and young storks are among the first long-distance travellers heading for southern climes. Millions of birds migrate along the so-called Adriatic Flyway from Central, Northern and Eastern Europe or Siberia across the Adriatic Sea to Africa. But many birds never make it to their wintering grounds. “Every year the eastern Adriatic region becomes a death trap to far more than two million migratory birds. Throughout the wetlands along the coast and in the hinterland, bird hunters are gathering in droves to shoot at any animal that comes in their sights. Species like the ferruginous duck are on the verge of extinction also in Germany, because the shootings on their flyway across the Balkan Peninsula are emaciating their populations”, warns Gabriel Schwaderer, executive director of the pan-European nature conservation foundation EuroNatur.

Over the past years there were some improvements – at least on paper. Most of the countries along the Adriatic Flyway improved their legal framework, converging to EU standards. However, when it comes to enforcement of these legal improvements, things are still looking grim. Not even protected areas mean safety for the birds. Furthermore, great numbers of birds are shot irrespective of the species’ conservation status and also during the closed season. All of these violations are very rarely prosecuted.

“We call for better control and more resolute prosecution of violations. This is essential for a better protection of migrating birds”, says Gabriel Schwaderer. EuroNatur is very much hoping for an improvement of the situation in Albania, where the government passed a 2-year moratorium on hunting last spring. This long overdue step followed a massive decline in wildlife populations in Albania. “Now, at the beginning of the bird migration season, it is especially important that this hunting ban is effectively implemented”, emphasizes Gabriel Schwaderer.

A current example of how much can be achieved within a short period of time can be witnessed in Hutovo Blato Nature Park in the Bosnian-Herzegovinian part of the Neretva Delta. Here, for the first time in years, a massive decline in poaching was achieved. The reason for success is obvious: Supported by EuroNatur, rangers are regularly patrolling the Nature Park since last summer to ensure that the hunting ban is observed.

Background information:

  • More on bird hunting on the Balkans
  • Hutovo Blato Nature Park and the whole Neretva Delta are among the most important stopover sites for migratory birds along the Adriatic Flyway.

For further information please contact: EuroNatur, Konstanzer Str. 22, D-78315 Radolfzell, Tel.: +49/7732 - 92 72 24, Fax: +49/7732 - 92 72 22, E-Mail: info@euronatur.org, Internet: www.euronatur.org, contact person: Gabriel Schwaderer, press contact: Angie Rother

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