Ali (Wings) - Spring 2010

Editorial Spring 2010

DEROGATIONS AND POLITICIANS

European law might be labyrinthine, it may be a cure for insomnia but, like the Freedom of Information Act and its effect on MPs, it is binding on all.

As a result of the diversity of the nations in the EU, a simple “one law fits all” approach doesn’t always work well and so there is the system of derogation, where a nation can, under certain circumstances, exempt itself from some part of the legislation. Derogation is, of itself, not necessarily evil as long as the controls on it are strict and well enforced – and most, if not all, of the nations use derogations in one way or another.

However, the use by Italy, in recent years, of derogations regarding the Birds Directive has been excessive and illegal. Region after region has applied derogations to start the hunting season early, a so-called “pre-hunting season” and to extend the closing of the season.

There are only three possible grounds for derogations from the directive and, in brief, they are: public health and safety, for research, teaching and science and, lastly, under strict supervision the capture and keeping of certain birds in small numbers.

Can you see anything about shooting birds for more than four months? So, with an obvious inevitability, Italy has been brought before the beak and told that these abuses have to stop. Faced with enormous fines the parliament has to find a way of addressing the complaints of Europe and this year, the Senate has found the most creative solution you can imagine. The problem is caused by the use of derogations to extend the hunting season; the solution is obvious – just lengthen the season and no-one will need derogations. Italy is off the hook and the hunters are overjoyed!

The conservation and protection of birds has many facets and, perhaps, the least glamorous is the work of Danilo Selvaggi, seen on the inside cover, who, with Giovanni Albarella, is responsible for lobbying and talking to those who have influence in both houses of the parliament. Danilo has one of the most challenging jobs and he has our whole-hearted respect and support for this essential work.

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THE INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF BIODIVERSITY

2010, the year for biodiversity, has begun under the banner, “Nature for a better life”. Its aims are to make everyone more aware of the value of the natural world and the importance of biodiversity.

From now until December, and from Brazil to the Middle East, from North Africa to Europe, events will be held in places which enjoy the greatest biodiversity on the planet. The message will also be taken to the capitals of the world where the key political decisions are made. It is governments that must translate into reality the ambitious target (currently being missed) of halting the decline in biodiversity by 2010.

Promoted by the United Nations World Conservation Union, the International Year of Biodiversity was officially launched on January 11 in Berlin with a ceremony to greet the New Year for Nature. Many other countries have done the same, while the year in Italy was inaugurated by an event in Bari promoted by Federparchi.

Those “treasures of biodiversity” that are the LIPU reserves will be playing the leading role. This year they must not just be well managed, but also communicate and celebrate the value of biodiversity. As LIPU President Danilo Mainardi has said, biodiversity and ethics go hand in hand and when any species becomes extinct, so a part of us is also lost.

LOOK AT IT – THE SHAPES, THE COLOURS AND THE SCENTS OF BIODIVERSITY

Marco Lambertini

Chief Executive of BirdLife International, former Director General LIPU 1990-97

To tell you the story of biodiversity, I’ll begin with an island that, in my childhood, seemed like a dark, unattainable silhouette on the horizon whenever I saw it across the sea from Livorno. Then one day, I found myself on board the ferry, “Capo Bianco”, followed by a flock of Herring Gulls – those lords of the winds – heading for the little port of Capraia.
Here, as I expected, there was a springtime explosion of flowers in the undergrowth and above me, the cries of gulls. Everywhere, the flights of migratory birds were driven by that mysterious instinct which causes them to fly thousands of miles, facing dangers that would discourage the toughest human adventurer.

The majority of these birds are here only for a brief rest. They refuel, benefiting from the abundance of insects and flower pollen. They do not stay long and soon they continue their flight north.

On the opposite side of the island, between the volcanic lava cliffs and the mediaeval towers – built by the Genoese as defences against the Saracens – you can see the huge gull colonies. In the sky above, hundreds of birds are in flight and the clamour of their cries is part of a complex concert of sounds. The whole atmosphere is soaked with the sweet and pungent aromas of Mediterranean shrubs and their essential oils – rosemary, lavender, statice, sea rock rose and ‘catmint’ – the catnip plant that created the aromatic cocktail so loved by the cat Sylvester!

Here, within this chaos of flight, notice also a purer white colour, a more delicate flight and an elegant, dark coral-pink beak. It is the rare jewel of the Mediterranean, the Audouin’s Gull. A strictly marine gull, very different from the versatile Herring Gull which visits cities, ports, marshes and rubbish tips.

Now we leave Italy, and we must travel 10,000kms east along the line of the equator and meet the most surprising wildlife of the planet. A few virgin forests, such as that in the Danum Valley in Borneo, Malaysia, can arouse very strong sensations. A green wall of very tall trees whose trunks grow as straight as a ramrod and with ‘hair’ hanging more than 40m in height to form an uninterrupted green canopy from which emerge the giants of the jungle – figs and leguminous trees that are above 60m in height.

At dawn, powerful screams sound from the crown of the trees which are wreathed with huge ferns, orchids and other epiphytes (air plants), special plants that grow on trunks and branches rather than in the ground.

These are the calls of Gibbons that, every morning, mark the territory of their family groups and offer us the first overture of an exotic symphony which will soon be joined by birds, insects and cicadas.

Here, in the tropical forest, live at least half, perhaps two-thirds, of all the life forms on the planet. Here, one continually discovers species new to science. Here, there is no limit to the diversity, the variety, the eccentricity of tropical biodiversity. Here, snakes, frogs, squirrels, geckos and lizards, are capable of flight through adaptation to their vertical environment. Here, everything is richer, more complex, more exuberant compared to nature in our country. Here, in a few hectares, there are more trees and more butterflies than can be counted in all Italy.

Praying Mantises that have the shape and colour of an orchid flower, stick insects with green legs that replicate mossy filaments, butterflies that remain motionless like leaves on branches and others that glide like falling leaves to deceive the smallest raptor in the world that hunts butterflies and moths – the Little Borneo Falcon.

And then, towards evening, before making camp in the forest, between the flight of the gigantic flying foxes – fruit bats with ‘cheeky’ dog-like faces, a young orangutan meticulously prepares his nest for the night. His sweet almond-shaped eyes have a thoughtful, philosophical look that takes us back to our most distant past.

However, though this is an article to celebrate biodiversity, it is also to remind us of an uncertain future. Ten million hectares of tropical forest are destroyed every year – the equivalent of a third of Italian territory. Nearly half of the migratory birds are in sharp decline and one in eight bird species is threatened with extinction.

So while celebrating the biodiversity of life, our hope goes to that young orangutan and his forest, to the cries of the gulls and their island, to the flight of the migrating birds and their epic adventures. And we must remind ourselves that we ignore the value of nature at our peril, whether we like it or not, we are profoundly dependent upon it.

MISSION NOT ACCOMPLISHED (FOR NOW)

Claudio Celada, Conservation Director, LIPU

It is now evident to everybody, and officially recognised by the Council of the European Union, that the aim to “stop the decline of biodiversity by 2010”, first expressed at a meeting of the United Nations in 2001, has not been achieved. On every geographical scale (Global, the European Union, Italy), we are still losing species and damaging habitats. There are, fortunately, success stories on which to base new conservation strategies for 2010 but, in general, the environment we share with millions of species is still deteriorating. If we really want to reverse this situation, it will not be enough simply to invent another deadline before which, with a single wave of a magic wand, we can put an end to this vortex of extinction and environmental impoverishment. It is vital that we understand why, despite repeated warnings from the LIPU in Italy and from BirdLife International worldwide, often in conjunction with other associations, the aeroplane of biodiversity is losing height.

The first step is to recognise that there is a problem – and that this problem is complex.

It is as if the pilot (or the pilots – the decision makers) were asleep and trusting blindly in the automatic pilot, our model for development, which is heading for an inevitable collision... In general, we can now say that chance of political parties actually doing something about the crisis, is virtually non-existent, and the awareness of any urgency is even more so. The protection of biodiversity has been relegated to very few sectors, as if the problem did not concern all. But we think that the preservation of biodiversity must be a fundamental concern for everyone regardless of their political stance.

Why should we protect biodiversity?

The easy answer is, “Because it has an intrinsic, spiritual, human value that we all recognise and would hate to lose”, as if it were a piece of music or a work of art. But even if we just put it down to material issues, it is now, more than ever, obvious that the loss of biodiversity is undermining the health of our eco-systems. Those systems which provide us with essential services, the purification of air and water, raw materials, protection from natural disasters such as floods and droughts etc. Finally, they allow us to face and to adapt to the climate changes that are already having an effect, even in our country. An eco-system that loses its biodiversity is not in good health and cannot provide us with any valuable services. There is undoubtedly a social and economic value in biodiversity that can also be quantified in Euros and which must be taken seriously into consideration.

Recent Successes

In the face of really worrying trends, we have shown how numerous success stories regarding the conservation of biodiversity still give us reason to hope; all this patient work must not be allowed to falter . Here are some recent examples:

We have an accurate way to monitor and define the state of conservation of all the species of birds nesting in Italy. We know how each species is progressing and are aware of the sadly numerous species which are in decline, and we are also aware of the problems and how to deal with them.

So what are the challenges for 2020 and 2050?

If we look to the future, does it really make sense to repeat the aims made in 2010, for the near future, such as “putting an end to any further decline in biodiversity by 2020”? It is as if we have to accept another ten years of devastation – by those who put other interests before the conservation of biodiversity. But we must continue with our work, preventing the extinction of rare species and the decline in number of other species, preserving habitats, limiting the damage to animals by reducing hunting. We also need to put real effort into creating sustainable agriculture and fishing, stopping the deforestation now rampant throughout Europe and protecting the areas most important both for birds and for biodiversity.

However, we must also make an impact on some of the more basic problems if we want to stop the decline in biodiversity before 2020 or even before the end of the century.

  1. Biodiversity and the integrity of ecosystems must be recognised as prime values for everybody and not only by the decision makers. We can only save biodiversity if the cause is taken up by many.
  2. Existing European and national legislation must be put into force.
  3. New laws must be introduced where they are deficient; for example, in Italy, there is no law regarding biodiversity.
  4. Sectoral political reform is needed, putting the conservation of biodiversity to the fore.
  5. Economic resources are needed for the conservation of biodiversity and to prepare ecosystems for climatic change.
  6. Relevant financial incentives are required for those activities that are sustainable from an environmental point of view.
  7. Markets must reward sustainable enterprises. Deforestation, for example, must be taxed and positive actions in favour of the environment should be rewarded.
  8. Ultimately what we require is a new economic policy which acknowledges the universal value of the environment.
  9. The exploitation of natural resources must be limited.
  10. Above all it is vital that everyone understands that only by preserving biodiversity can we guarantee a valuable future for us all.

BIODIVERSITY

Danilo Mainardi, Honorary President, LIPU and Professor in Behavioural Ecology at Venice University

Nothing is more important for the health of our planet than biodiversity, but to understand why that is, it is essential to understand how the natural systems function.

When one speaks of the balance of nature (which is also very important for the health of our own species), we cannot refer to it except as a singular entity.

Biodiversity of the environment means all the species of animals, plants and micro-organisms that have evolved together in the course of history. This co-evolution has produced an intricate inter-relationship – ties of dependence between species – so that any extinction, caused by the reckless introduction of alien species, can create a torrent of consequences that are difficult to predict.

This can cause an imbalance in the system. Consider, for example, the significance of the disappearance of a major predator such as the wolf. This would have obvious significance for the future of its prey. There would be uncontrollable populations of large herbivores, many of them sick or injured, damage to the undergrowth and so on. Again, the consequences of this would be difficult to predict.

So, as evolution is a dynamic phenomenon, and because the species are able to maintain their capacity to adapt, it is essential that they maintain their diversity within the species. The vitality of a species is measured by the degree of genetic diversity of its individuals and, therefore, a population (or a species) composed of individuals all the same, is inevitably at risk.

That’s why it is dangerous when protected areas become smaller and more detached from each other and this explains why it is risky to introduce human cultural changes that can prevent the natural balance from maintaining itself over time.

Also, the situation is more complex in some cases, because so many social species have evolved as specialists that it is not enough to protect ‘a few’ individuals. For these species, it is necessary that the natural proportion of each specialist category is present, and this makes conservation even more complex.

Furthermore, and above all for birds and mammals, it is not only the genetic information that allows the individuals to survive. There exists a wisdom, often learned from local experience, that must be protected and that must necessarily be passed from one generation to the next. So in these cases, the genetic heritage should be protected, and this can only happen if the natural environment remains untouched.

It would be impossible in these cases, after the destruction or impoverishment of local populations, to hope for success in the later transplantation of individuals, with other skills, because they come from different areas.

Finally, consider the eagle – an excellent example of a scarce species. These predators spend their lives, as pairs, in territories of such size as to allow them to gather sufficient resources while maintaining the balance of their prey populations. That is to say, very large territories indeed. It is evident, therefore, that only in areas in which there is some way of protecting the huge size of the territory, can a population of eagles, no matter how small, be maintained.

This is, in essence, the general significance of the extraordinary and complex phenomenon that is biodiversity.

The only conclusion is this: biodiversity is a heritage of the community that has been built up over a very long time by biological evolution and that, once destroyed, is lost for ever. Certain actions, certain decisions aimed only for short-term profit, can cause the destruction of the heritage which is ours and that it is our duty to pass on to future generations.

ITALY AGAINST "WILD HUNTING"

Claudio Celada, Conservation Director, LIPU

It was a spontaneous and passionate uprising, involving newspapers, television, radio, internet, people distinguished in science, culture and show business. So many people and so many members and friends of LIPU. All against “wild hunting”, all indignant about this blatant attempt to increase the already overly generous concessions in favour of hunting in Italy.

The parliamentary hunters are making a third attempt on the Community law. What is the Community law? It is a domestic law which requires Parliament to respond to infringement procedures instigated by the European Court on various matters. Among these responses, at Article 43, is the response which Italy could give to the infringement procedure 2131 of 2006 in respect of breaches of the Birds Directive. We should remember that this infringement procedure, already brought before the Court of Justice, and hence close to sentencing, is in great part given to the theme of hunting. In essence, Europe charges Italy with allowing too much hunting and hunting which is unsustainable and harmful.

On 28th January, the law approved by the Senate included a proposal which abolishes the present 1st September – 31st January limits to the Italian hunting season. This made possible the lengthening of the hunting season into the month of February when birds are faced with the most critical of journeys to their breeding grounds and, into August, when animals are raising their young and many people are enjoying well-earned rest in the country.

Article 43 is a most serious act, both as to how it came about (a devious parliamentary trick) and in its substance. In an underhand way, and using an improper legislative method, it has sought to lengthen the hunting season to a sort of “no-limits hunting”, removing one of the pillars of the Hunting Law 157, specifically the 1st September – 31st January limit. But here too, LIPU, and all the other representatives of the environmental world, have unleashed a campaign of denunciation and protest.

Furthermore, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Tourism have protested strongly at the scandal and denounced this unlimited blitz as shameful.

But it is not only this passage of the law that is not good. In general, Article 43 does not respond to any of the requirements of the European Union, nothing on the Italian abuse of derogated hunting of protected species and nothing on the obligation on Italy to forbid hunting in the reproductive and migration periods of birds. This is most serious because Italy is subject to four processes on infringement with regard to hunting, and now near to condemnation in the Court of Justice.

Remember also, that today in Italy, there is already hunting for five months of the year of 34 species of birds. Of these, at least 18 are in a poor state of conservation, while there are at least 11 species which at present are hunted during the period of the Spring migration.

Now the Community Law is being examined by the Chamber of Deputies where LIPU will fight to get this shameful article cancelled or corrected, to re-establish the time limits of 1st September – 31st January, for the, already very long, hunting season.

VARIETY SHOW

Ugo Faralli, head of Oases and Reserves

Some names are strange: Moustached Warbler, Red Hornet, Kotschy’s Gecko, Gamefish. Ocellated Skink, Common Froghopper, Water Chestnut, Sanderling. Kuhl’s Pipistrelle, Bird’s-nest (an orchid!), Nightjar. Other names are familiar: Blackbird, Oak, frog, fox, violet, moss, mushroom, hedgehog, newt. What does this wide range of species have in common? You can find them all on LIPU oases and reserves.

LIPU manages 29 oases and reserves, home to 5000 species of animals and plants. Some of the species are common, some are localised, some are rare or threatened. Stretching the length of Italy, from Palude Brabbia at the foot of the Alps, to the Priolo Saline in south-eastern Sicily, LIPU oases and reserves show a varied range of habitats, nature and species. The peat bogs, viviparous lizards, and Gadwall of Brabbia bring to mind Central Europe. The Tamarisk and Mastic-tree groves, Purple Gallinules and Painted Frogs of Priolo seem to come straight from Africa. Meanwhile, the list of species continues to grow. This is only to be expected. Some surveys are partial, others have work in progress, staff and visiting researchers continue to “discover” additional species. One example is Itame Sparsaria, a moth endemic to the Apennines, was discovered on the Oasis of Casacalenda by Carlo Meo and Angela Damiano while they were conducting a census of moths.

For most people, biodiversity means a large number of species. As LIPU is well aware, this is only part of the concept, still it makes a perfect starting point for engaging the wider public. This year, more than ever, we are promoting the importance of biodiversity and the role it plays. Providing information to our visitors – from schoolchildren to families, from tourists to individuals.

Oases and reserves are not mere pieces of real estate. They are a small but tangible contribution towards protecting nature, a buffer against the loss of biodiversity. For 30 years, LIPU has proposed, established and managed these areas, protecting the sites, habitats and species. Still, it is birds that we care about most. Carloforte was created for the Eleonora’s Falcon; Torrile was created for Black-winged Stilt; Gravina di Laterza for Egyptian Vulture and Lesser Kestrel. Montepulciano and Brabbia were created for Ferruginous Duck and Bittern; Bianello and Bosco Negri for Sparrowhawk; Ca’ Roman for Kentish Plover and Little Tern. Without the Purple Heron, we would not have created Ostiglia. Without the Chough and the Golden Eagle, we would not have taken care of Campocatino. But behind all this is a vision, a vision extending beyond oases as places just for the birds…

Protecting the cliffs at Carloforte for Eleonora’s Falcon means conserving the site as well as its nature. Without LIPU, this area might have been built up with hotels and marinas like other parts of the Sardinian coast. The story at Montepulciano is the same. The thousands of wintering ducks and migratory birds we see today would have been impossible if the wetland had been destroyed and the lake over-hunted. And the Eridania sugar refinery in Torrile? Without LIPU and Maurizio Ravasini, the refinery would now be surrounded by typical Po valley farmland. Instead, there is a “new” 35 hectare wetland, soon to become a nature reserve, supporting all species of nesting herons, the hundreds of dragonflies and the Cetti’s Warbler that follows visiting photographers and birdwatchers with its song.

In brief, without LIPU, without the volunteers, without the Oasis teams, there would be less biodiversity today.

INTERNATIONAL BIRDWATCHING AND NATURE TOURISM FAIR RETURNS TO COMACCHIO

Capture on camera a cloud of white and pink feathers in an azure sky, watch the light reflected on the calm saltwater lagoon or stand enchanted by the petals of a flower. You can do all this and more at Comacchio (Ferrara), from 30 April to 2 May. This is, in fact, the fifth time that the international birdwatching and nature tourism fair has come to the town which is considered to be the pearl of the Po Delta.

The fair is a reference point for birdwatching experts and aficionados, for international standard photography and nature tourism. It will benefit from a renovated exhibition centre providing stands for optical and photographic companies, ‘green’ publishing and sports clothing firms. It will be a useful opportunity for getting to know the main nature destinations as well as projects overseen by groups which operate to protect nature.

Amongst the exhibitors is LIPU which has renewed its own partnership with organisations at the event, under the heading of “slower” and more aware tourism founded on respect for and understanding of nature. There will be many events to increase people’s awareness such as photographic workshops, photographic and nature documentary competitions, birdwatching lessons, meetings, exhibitions and guided visits to the excellent Po Delta Park, where people can put their own abilities as birdwatchers to the test out in the field.

A preview of the fair will take place on 29 April with the international conference “A window onto birdwatching”. Events of special interest during the fair itself are the festival of nature documentaries and the photographic exhibitions in which the latest pictures for the national nature photography competition will be shown. There are also many workshops for people to learn photographic techniques, as well as the important points of birdwatching, and LIPU will organise field trips for both adults and young people to the most suitable places for observing birdlife in the Delta Park.

For information visit: http://www.podeltabirdfair.it

NEWS FROM LIPU-UK

Sadly, LIPU is being diverted from a real and important challenge – persuading the powers-that-be of the importance of biodiversity – by a cheap stunt in the Senate. It reflects no credit on the politicians who are backing this, clearly flawed and unpopular, attempt to change the law to help the hunters.

That LIPU has matured is now clear, what the membership may lack in numbers it makes up for in skill and dedication. Danilo Selvaggi works in Rome and has the unenviable, but vital, task of speaking to the elected representatives of the people – the people who have said over and again that they do not support hunting, let alone any extension of it.

From the unsung heroes, we turn to the high-profile, and sometimes dangerous, world of the anti-poaching teams. The volunteers are led by Giovanni Malara, from Reggio Calabria which is about as close as you can get to Sicily without stepping on to the ferry. He gives up his holidays and most of his spare time to thwart the poachers from Sardinia to Brescia – the full extent of the country.

In the latest efforts to counter the trapping of thrushes on Sardinian hillsides his team was often threatened and twice there was violence, but nobody was seriously hurt. This is his report of the work in the winter of 2009-10.

SARDINIA 2009-10

Once again, thanks to funding support of the members of LIPU-UK, LIPU has been active in the hills above Capoterra in Sardinia – busy thwarting the activities of those who would trap birds and animals illegally.

That they have been undisturbed in this for over thirty years is a disgrace and is being used by the poachers as a justification for their evil activities. The recent interference by LIPU has caused feelings to boil over and volunteers have frequently been threatened – threats which have erupted into violence on two occasions.

Giovanni Malara, who leads the anti-poaching teams, said, “The situation is worsening from year to year”. Looking back on the work in the winter of 2009-10, he reported that in the final phase of the fieldwork, between Christmas and 9 January, 30 volunteers from all over Italy and one from Malta, have destroyed 11,266 horsehair traps set to catch small birds (mainly thrushes, blackbirds and robins), 44 mist nets, 129 spring traps and 21 wire snares set to catch mammals. Over 110 birds were found in traps, of which 53 were still alive and were released. Among these were many robins, thrushes and blackbirds, but also pigeons and jays.

The volunteers also managed to film two poachers (see inside back cover) who were in the act of recovering birds which were caught in the traps. LIPU denounced them to the Commandant of the Carabinieri of Capoterra who is responsible for prosecution in these cases, LIPU also handed over all the other evidence collected during the campaign.
This brings to five the number of poachers, all from the Capoterra area, filmed with equipment supplied by LIPU-UK, and reported this year by LIPU. A considerable number, considering that the police forces from Cagliari, in total, filed fewer than 10 complaints in a full year.

The results of the LIPU action around Cagliari were of great importance – in the course of 50 days of activity (from October to January), 82 volunteers walking along thousands of miles of mountain tracks have removed 24,829 traps, 102 snares for the capture of mammals and found 204 birds, 66 of which were released.

The activity of the volunteers has enabled the identification of a group of poachers operating in the valley of Gutturu Mannu, between the provinces of Cagliari and Iglesias. The poachers had placed tens of thousands of traps, all manufactured of horsehair, to a standard pattern and some of them even received a fee of 50 Euros per day for their illegal activities.

This year, LIPU-UK member, James Parry, a journalist working for the BBC Wildlife Magazine, joined the camp for a few days to see for himself the work being done; his report appeared in the February 2010 issue.

The picture shows just a handful of the laces, or snares, which I collected when helping at the camp in 2008. LIPU-UK enabled this work and we are proud to be able to continue that support, we will always help the anti-poaching work of LIPU.

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LIPU-UK ANNUAL APPEAL

In the last ten years, we have increased our financial support for conservation in Italy. As you know, we meet the directors each year and discuss how best to help LIPU. Ten years ago we funded four projects worth a total of £24,000, which was many millions of lire, but we have added more over the years and last year, we committed the UK section to supporting six projects to the tune of €62,500. In addition to project support, a large part of the membership subscription is sent to our head office.

This year is no less ambitious and, despite the strength of the Euro, we are appealing for donations to support the following essential work in Italy:

This vital work is still needed and we are proud to play a part in stamping out the trapping of song birds and thrushes at the two ends of the nation.

This project goes from strength to strength as the information is collected and shared with other European partners the protection of raptors is being made more effective.

LIPU successfully identified and proposed the Important Bird Areas in Italy and these are steadily being protected as Special Protection Areas (SPAs). Now the same is to be done for the seas around Italy and this major project will have our help after institutional funding dried up.

These centres, vital in the treatment and rehabilitation of injured birds, are always in need of instruments and medicines – we are happy to help here.

Ornitho, www.ornitho.it is a web based “exchange platform about birding in Italy”. LIPU is taking the lead in developing the data collection features so that survey and census data can be collated. This is a small project.

Our total fund raising target this year is €70,000 including the membership contribution. With your help and generosity, I am sure we can achieve this and, if we are successful, I’ll be able to announce something special in the next edition of the Ali. Please give as much as you can spare, we have only one appeal a year and this is your chance to make a difference in 2010 – thank you.

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LIPU-UK ANNUAL DRAW 2009.

The winners in our annual draw are:

Mr D E Carnell Washington, Tyne & Wear
Mrs J Lambert Worksop, Notts
Mr J M Breakey Cumbernauld, Glasgow
Mrs G D Hirst Chipping Norton, Oxon
Michael Libby East Finchley, London
Mrs B Callighan Bromley, Kent
Eileen Willey Roborough, Plymouth

Thank you to all who took part and to those who donated prizes.

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Paul Seligman of Cardiff writes that he sent the following to a travel company which visits Sardinia:

“BBC Wildlife Magazine (Feb. 2010 pages 38-39) has an article on Sardinia headed “Where Thrushes Fear to Fly”. Illustrated with a picture of a song thrush hanging strangled in a wire noose. It is estimated that at least 300,000 song birds are illegally killed like this every year on Sardinia. That’s apart from those that are legally shot.

You can find more information and pictures here: http://www.lipu-uk.org/Trapping1.htm. I expect LIPU would let you put these pictures on your web site or in your brochure.

It is not necessary for anyone in Sardinia to catch song thrushes for food or any other reason.

As specialist operators to this destination, can you make clear to the Sardinian authorities that the vast majority of British people find this practice barbaric, and that it reduces the appeal of the island as a tourist destination. I certainly won’t travel there while this continues, any more than I’d holiday in Malta, for the same reason.”

Paul thinks that other readers may wish to follow his example and I commend the idea – thank you, Paul.

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TAIL FEATHERS

The River Lambro, near Milan, one of the most polluted in Italy, has been improving in recent years. All this progress has been undone, after a leak of 260,000 gallons of oil which is now heading towards the River Po. It is thought to be the result of sabotage at a storage depot and was described by the president of Monza province as “environmental terrorism”. LIPU volunteers are helping survey the damage and are taking in oiled birds for treatment.

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As always, I am grateful to our team of translators who produced the words in English for this edition, they are: Cecily Adelson, Barbara Avery, Jo Bazen, Carol Debney, Tony Harris and Caterina Paone.

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Line drawings are used by courtesy of the RSPB, the picture of the poacher is © LIPU and the other photographs are © David Lingard.

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