Shooting of bald ibis in Croatia

The northern bald ibis is one of the world’s rarest birds with only tiny remnant populations in the Middle East and along the Atlantic coast of Morocco. Currently, there is an elaborate plan to reintroduce these birds in the Alps where they bred until the 16th century. The project to protect this endangered species suffered a severe setback in December when three of the bald ibis were shot and killed in Croatia.

Bald Ibis in Morocco

One of the curious looking Bald Ibis in Morocco.

© Alfred Limbrunner

An international project has been working in recent years on the reintroduction of the bald ibis to the Alps (one of the places being Überlingen at Lake Constance). As the birds have to be taught migratory behaviour, an ultralight airplane has been used to guide them over the Alps to their Italian wintering areas.

In December, a flock of bald ibis, led by adults which already knew the migration route, was flying from Austria in the direction of their wintering grounds. Instead of flying over Slovenia into Tuscany, they took a wrong turning and followed the coastline in a southerly direction – a mistake which was to have fatal consequences.  When the flock of ibis reached the Croatian town of Zadar, three of this highly protected species, including two of the lead birds, were shot down. The Croatian police and our partner organisation, Biom, are now carrying out investigations in the hope of finding the perpetrators of this terrible wildlife crime. The killing of these bald ibis once again illustrates the great importance of the campaign by EuroNatur and its partner organisations against illegal hunting along the Adriatic flyway.

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