31 August 2011On the International Day of Biodiversity, 22 May, Dr Angelica Schwall-Düren, minister for European affairs in the Northrhine-Westphalian government, and Josef Tumbrinck, president of the local NABU, a nature protection society in the Lower Rhine region, along with other NABU representatives, visited the successful ongoing nature conservation project for wetland bird species in the Hetter.
The LIFE project is furthering the work of the NABU NRW in co-operation with the Northrhine-Westfalian Foundation for Culture and Nature Conservation. For 25 years, it has been protecting about 40 breeding pairs of the black-tailed godwit (Limosa, limosa), the most important breeding population of these endangered marsh-area-birds in whole Northrine-Westphalia.
The project area covers 665 ha and comprises up to 20% of the black-tailed godwit's breeding population in NRW. Since the beginning of the 1990s, the NRW-Foundation and NABU have bought 100 ha of this nature reserve – the LIFE project is allowing for further land purchase to connect grassland and provide more suitable habitats for the black-tailed godwit and the other 30 bird species listed in Annex I and IV of the Birds Directive.
“The guarantee to maintain LIFE as the important European financial instrument for nature conservation projects has an enormous importance to rescue our biodiversity,“ said Josef Tumbrinck. The regional NABU centre for nature conservation in Kranenburg and the nature conservation centre of the county of Kleve manage the protected area, but local farmers have a vital role to play. Only with their help, which the LIFE project is encouraging, can the wetlands be developed into one of the best marsh marigold areas of the whole Lower Rhine area.
10 August 2011The LIFE Nature CONVIPURSRAK project in Hungary (LIFE07 NAT/HU/000322) has released a new English-subtitled video to celebrate the success of its ex-situ conservation efforts. The video, which can be viewed online, explains how the project's LIFE co-funded conservation centre (opened in 2004 and previously supported by LIFE04 NAT/HU/000116) has enabled captive breeding and reintroduction of the Hungarian meadow viper (Vipera ursinii rakosiensis), one of the EU's most endangered snakes (only 500 specimens exist in the wild). Most interestingly for a lay audience, the video includes footage of the birth of the vipers, a rarely seen event. In 2010, the LIFE beneficiary (BirdLife Hungary) observed the birth of 240 Hungarian meadow vipers from 21 females. With the 2011 breeding season this month (August), the centre is hopeful of an even bigger batch of new vipers.
The Hungarian Meadow Viper Conservation Centre staged an open day at the end of May this year, attracting some 100 visitors, who walked the Kiskunság nature trail and viewed the open air terrariums that currently house more than 500 Hungarian meadow vipers. Last year, the President of Hungary paid a visit to the viper centre, footage of which can be seen here.
05 August 2011Karel van Kesteren, the Dutch ambassador to Bulgaria, has donated 500 Bulgarian lev to name and release a griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus). The bird, which was one of two transported from the Dutch Zoo of Amersfoort, was released as part of the project, ‘Vultures Return in Bulgaria’ (LIFE08 NAT/BG/000278). The two-year old vulture now bears the name Giertje (little vulture).
Mr Kesteren visited the Wildlife Rescue Centre at Green Balkans – Stara Zagora to see where the bird was accommodated before its release. The move is part of a wide-scale public campaign to fit extra transmitters to birds and allow researchers to track their adaptation into the wild. The releasing ceremony was also attended by the director of the Sinite kamani Nature Park and the district governor of Sliven.
To date, a total of 12 griffon vultures have been released from the aviary of Sliven and six of them have stayed in the area, using the supplementary feeding site maintained by the project team. A further 11 birds are currently awaiting their release in the adaptation aviary.
At the start of the project, the only viable population of griffon vulture in Bulgaria was restricted to the Bulgarian Eastern Rodope Mountains; among other objectives the project is aiming to reintroduce this rare species to the Balkan Mountains.
Read more information on the project website.
02 August 2011The LIFE project, ‘Save the Flyers’ (LIFE08 NAT/IT/000332), has successfully reintroduced red kites (milvus milvus) in Tuscany. The programme, which was carried out by the local administration Comunità Montana Amiata Grossetano, entailed relocating 64 individuals from Corsica and the Canton of Fribourg (Switzerland) into the Upper Albegna Valley, southern Tuscany.
The release area, located in the southernmost part of the SCI and SPA “Monte Labbro e Alta Valle dell’Albegna”, is a hilly landscape with a mixture of woodlands, pastures and arable lands, and is crossed by the Albegna river; it’s a very suitable habitat for red kites, offering feeding opportunities and nesting sites, as proved by a feasibility plan drawn up in 2006 and updated in 2010.
The red kite is listed as ‘near threatened’ in the IUCN Red List, as a result of its moderately rapid population decline in southern Europe. The main threats to the species are direct poisoning (poison baits) and secondary poisoning due to the use of rodenticides against vole, which is especially widespread in France and Spain. Other significant threats include loss of habitat (i.e. conversion from grasslands to cereal crops), electrocution and collision with power lines and wind-turbines, and the closing of rubbish dumps.
The birds released in Tuscany are all being monitored by radio-tracking, the video control system of the two feeding platforms and the re-sightings of wing-tagged birds in the surroundings of the release area. At least two-thirds of the birds released in Tuscany in 2008-2010 have survived. For more information, visit the project website.