Ali (Wings) - Spring 2011

Editorial Spring 2011


David Lingard

It is only in the last five years that LIPU has been able to mount operations against the trappers in the south of Sardinia, but those operations have been hugely successful in forcing the poachers further and further back into the mountains. This has made the illegal trade in thrushes and other small birds more difficult and so, the danger to the LIPU volunteers has steadily grown from threats in 2009, to direct attacks last year when Fulvio Mamone Capria, LIPU Vice President, was hit by rocks thrown by a poacher.

We have more reports from Sardinia in this issue, including one by Stephen Downing who joined the camp in the last winter while taking a break from his job as an Investigations Officer for the RSPB.

One of the problems in the past has been the difficulty of getting the Corpo Forestali, the Forest Guards, to take the problem seriously and make a real effort to catch the poachers. Giovanni Malara was successful in his approach to the local branch, or Arm, of the Carabinieri (a police force of the Ministry of Defence but with national jurisdiction) and they were very successful in catching poachers in the season just closed.

News of this was an embarrassment to the Forest Guards and much closer co-operation and stronger action is promised for next year. Long may these partnerships prosper!

You’ll read that the surveillance equipment used on the hillsides to such good effect was provided by LIPU-UK and our support for the anti-trapping camps will continue for as long as it is needed.

This edition of Ali is our one and only appeal for funds in the year, unlike some charities which bombard their members with such requests. We do not apologise for the emphasis on the trapping of thrushes and other small birds because we must help the brave volunteers of LIPU in the best way we can – by raising funds to make their work an even greater success in the future. Conscious, as we are, of these difficult times, we are still hopeful of your continued support – please give what you can and make our support of LIPU a reality for another year. Thank you.


Giuliano Tallone, LIPU President

The news in recent months has been alarming. The continuing battle against poaching has seen events of unusual barbarity (the murder of Paola and the attack on Fulvio). However, in the same months LIPU has continued research into future scenarios for avifauna in Italy. What is needed now is a definite leap forward. We must unite those who care about the environment, and present a strong, united voice.

In the last few months LIPU has seen the re-emergence of old and familiar problems.

On the anti-poaching front (an area in which LIPU has been particularly energetic following the tragic events in Genoa which led to the death of Paola), there have been extraordinary episodes of violence near Cagliari, on the Straits of Messina, near Brescia, and elsewhere in Italy. The violence in Sardinia has been particularly serious, including the recent wounding of LIPU vice-president Fulvio Mamone Capria by a poacher. Over the last few years Sardinia has been the object of special attention by LIPU, this made possible by the commitment of Giovanni Malara. The attacker has been reported to the Carabinieri.

In the field of hunting law, we have seen attempts to weaken regulation and enforcement, which, thankfully, have failed. Proposals to deregulate the hunting season have been reduced to a limited expansion of only ten days in February, under very precise conditions which also include postponing the opening date. However European law still continues to be ignored by many regions. We will be responding to this through the courts.

But LIPU has to consider a much wider picture. From opening new perspectives on policy through research into the conservation of birds and the study of marine IBAs, to national and European lobbying for parks, fauna and ecosystems to protecting the rural environment from unchecked development of wind farms.

For this reason, after 27 years working for LIPU, I am now devoting myself to a new project – the creation of an “ecologist assembly”. This seeks first to bring members of environmental organisations and other individuals together, and second, to bring the themes of birds and biodiversity into the places where decisions are made.

It is important that our objectives, together with those of the wider environment, become the heart of the political agenda. We need to confront the big questions, both at a national and international level, such as climate change and the extinction of species. It will be a different approach, but I believe a coherent one, carrying forward the values that all of us in LIPU share.

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by Patrizia Rossi, LIPU Agricultural Officer

Public funds in exchange for public benefit.

Here is LIPU’s recommendation:

Many more than one billion people in the world live on less than one dollar a day. A cow, in the EU, gets $2.50, while a Japanese animal gets as much as $7 – every day! An absurd scenario for mankind which could also be putting the environment and wildlife at risk. The European Common Agricultural Policy – which props up the system and which accounts for about 50% of the EU budget – is rarely based on principles of care for the environment and animal welfare, or on consumer rights and welfare. Rather, it awards direct payments to farmers and stockbreeders, who see these subsidies as the only way to continue to operate in the current market.

The Common Agricultural Policy – 50 billion Euros badly spent.

Every year, the EU spends in the region of 50 billion euros supporting the agricultural sector, over 70% of which is paid out to farmers and stockbreeders based on a list of direct payments awarded in the past. The problems faced by our countryside will never be resolved like this, neither will those faced by the farfmers who believe, with the reduction of this financial support, that they have no choice but to close down. Last November, because of this, the European Commission published a document on future agricultural policy, outlining three very different scenarios. The final option made the most sense – although it could still be improved – allowing for a complete change in direction; to pay farmers not based on a list of payments made in the past, but according to the public benefits that they are capable of providing.

From direct payments to external benefits.

What are public benefits? While still in the agricultural sector, by borrowing an expression used by economists, we would define them as “external benefits”. These range from biodiversity to the countryside, from reducing the domestic carbon footprint to the possible availability of non-contaminated water, and even to the conservation of genetic agricultural resources. These benefit everyone of us, not just those who produce them (farmers and stockbreeders). But how could this system actually work in reality?

Firstly, we firmly believe that there should be less in the way of automatic subsidies; instead, farmers should subscribe to a new contract with EU contributors. In the future, only farmers who are able to provide “public benefits” to society should be able to get EU funding. Payments should only be made on the attainment of clear and measurable objectives which will have been defined firstly at a European level and subsequently at national and regional levels. In this way, those who harm the environment will no longer receive payments from the EU which after all, come from the taxes we pay. They will be entirely dependent on market forces and will only be able to operate if they respect environmental legislation. Funds will be redirected according to fair principles, at last giving help to the most virtuous farmers who have never been favoured by the various “reforms” that have happened up until now. You have only to remember that currently 20% of the farmers get more than 75% of the CAP funds. The path to obtain subsidies for activities which help the environment is very complicated, as well as not very profitable. It is also subject to many bureaucratic obstacles to the implementation of the plan for rural development.

In reality, this could mean dedicating a certain proportion of farmed land to the environment and to nature whilst ensuring the existence of hedges, rows of trees, ponds, fallow areas, woods and, where appropriate, meadows in the farm. These are the measures that, in the opinion of LIPU, should in future be the requisites for access to EU funds. This will benefit the countryside, reduce the hydro-geological imbalance, help combat climate change and be beneficial to natural species. Those who do not have these features, because they have destroyed them in the past, will have to reinstate them if they wish to obtain funding. Those who have preserved them, however, will have immediate access to funding and will finally be rewarded for producing public benefits even when it was not, so to speak, “in fashion”.

One further condition, in order to obtain more funding there should certainly be use of organic farming methodology, the best way to avoid chemical pollution, to favour biodiversity, and therefore be beneficial to our health. Those who operate in marginal areas, where the continuation of farming is important from an environmental and social point of view, for example in high mountain regions, must not be forgotten.

So, in ten years time, what will the countryside look like in Italy and in Europe? Will we still be able to enjoy the sight of swallows in flight and the sound of larks singing? Will farmers still be receiving EU money, and in what form? These are the questions that we must answer between now and 2013, when the reform will be passed by the EU.


by Danilo Selvaggi, responsible for political lobbying

Hunting in Italy – a smack in the face for nature and the law.

The 2010-11 season ended with a fraudulent regional manipulation of the hunting calendar. Could the next step be a criminal court case?

We have reported before that the 2010-11 hunting season opened in breach of the law, with only a handful of Italy’s regions apparently willing to impose the new law passed by Parliament the previous spring. A law that takes into account several important points of the Birds Directive, following several cases of illegal activities, it obliges Italy and its regions to increase bird protection, especially as far as hunting is concerned and in particular, for species in a critical conservation status, for which there is a total ban on hunting during migration and the breeding season.

The hunting calendar, as it first appeared, did not bode well. Only a few regions adopted, and only in part, the indications provided by the National Institute for Environmental Research (ISPRA), Italy’s scientific authority, whose opinion is not only binding but fundamental in establishing the hunting calendars. So what was to be done with those regions which did not adopt the new regulations? Where possible LIPU, together with other environmental associations, turned to the regional administrative tribunals (TAR). As a result, the hunting calendars in Lazio and Calabria were censured and the regions obliged to adopt the new measures.

But this was by no means the end of the story. Incredibly, Lazio and Calabria first pretended to adopt the new legislation and brought their calendars into line, but at the last minute modified them again and lengthened the season for some species (thrushes, Woodcock, ducks), thus ignoring the directives of ISPRA and making another case at the TAR impossible. Subsequently, Puglia, having initially issued a moderate calendar, modified it drastically at the last minute – a serious event especially considering Dario Stefàno’s dual responsibility as local administrator and national coordinator for hunting.

The dramatic situation regarding hunting in Italy, wracked by chronic administration failings, criminal acts and lenient sentences is reaching the point of exasperation. One of the reasons for this gross abuse, both of nature and the law, must certainly be the growing crisis felt by hunters that seek increasingly contorted and illegal means to carry out their carnage. But enough is enough and the time has come, it seems, to go beyond the TAR and the European Commission and appeal to the Criminal Courts, so that the laws and regulations regarding hunting can finally be fully respected.


by Giovanni Albarella

A short history of BirdWatch Ireland, the Irish partner of BirdLife International.

Two thirds of the country consists of broad plains through which rivers run, coming together to create a land of lakes and marshes. These give way to the famous crags and cliffs which characterise the western part of the island. The land of Ireland is, thanks to these environments and to its geographical position, blessed with the presence of more than 450 species of bird. Among these, are many colonies of seabirds and the Corncrake, one of the most threatened species in Europe.

Niall Hatch, Director of Public Relations for BirdWatch Ireland, the Irish partner of Birdlife International, answered the following questions:

“The seabird colonies of Ireland are among the most important in Europe. In Ireland, we have 24 species of breeding seabird and in the case of three of these – Manx Shearwater, Storm Petrel and Roseate Tern – our country takes on an importance at international level as far as species conservation is concerned. In fact, in Kerry we have the biggest European colony of Storm Petrels while the most important continental colony of Roseate Terns is to be found on the tiny island of Rockabill”.

  • Can you tell us about the programme for the conservation of the Corncrake?

“The Corncrake was once abundant, but is today a very rare species. For many older Irish people, its nocturnal call is one of the nostalgic sounds of childhood. However, the species has gone through a disastrous decline because of intensive agriculture; in 1950, there were 50,000 pairs in Ireland, today only 120. BirdWatch Ireland is working with the national parks, with the Wildlife Service and with agricultural organisations to reverse the disappearance of the Corncrake, for example by the payment of incentives to farmers so that they adopt practices more likely to favour nesting”.

“We have other projects under way. At the moment, one of the most important concerns the conservation of the Barn Owl. Other projects are looking at shorebirds, particularly the Curlew which in the next ten years risks extinction as a breeding bird in Ireland, but which, though it seems absurd, may still be hunted. Other than the birds, we also have projects for the conservation of mammals, such as the Otter and the Hare.

“Their effect has been really important; without the European directives, the government’s environmental policies would have been entirely wrong. The adoption of community rules has not been as one might have hoped nor their application as speedy. For this reason, Ireland is being pursued for breaking the laws.

  • The encouragement of birdwatching is one of your traditional activities.

“By observing these most beautiful creatures, everyone has the chance to understand the part that each one of us can have in the protection of birds. BirdWatch Ireland has a network of volunteers who organise hundreds of events every year to promote birdwatching. Events which allow us to pass on messages about our conservation projects and to recruit members and activists. We have recently begun to organise these events in tourist locations which are also good places to watch birds”.

“We chose the White-fronted Goose because Ireland plays host each winter to almost the entire world population of the Greenland sub-species. Enormous flocks of these birds are present from October to April in the south-east of the country. It is thrilling to be able to watch such a large number of them and, at the same time, to be aware of having the enormous responsibility for their conservation. Our logo is there to remind us of that every day”.


by Steve Downing

I first met Gabriele Zambelli, from Novara, northern Italy when we were both working as volunteers with BirdLife on Malta. We were there battling against the mindless slaughter of raptors, storks, Bee-eaters, or any other birds for that matter, as they crossed over the Maltese Islands in Spring and Autumn. During one of the Maltese Raptor Camps Gabriele gave a very impressive, and very disturbing, presentation about the extensive illegal trapping of thrushes and other small passerines for the restaurant trade on the island of Sardinia.

I was invited to attend the camp in November 2010, along with Danielle Hilbert, a friend from Berlin, who had also been with us at the Raptor Camps on Malta. This Sardinian camp lasted two weeks and was supported by 20 volunteers; Danielle and I were there between the 13th and the 21st. The camp, based in a large rented house several kilometres from Capoterra, is self-contained with the cooking and cleaning undertaken by the volunteers. The atmosphere in the house was fantastic, neither Danielle nor I are Italian speakers but we were made very welcome by Giovanni Malara, and the rest of the volunteers.

Giovanni, Gabriele, Francesca and Angelo are veterans of many previous camps and their guidance was invaluable. Each day we were divided into small groups by Giovanni and given our respective tasks. One group, led by Giovanni and Angelo, went in search of new active trapping paths. Once they located an active path the snares were deactivated and covert cameras were installed to film the trappers resetting them. The cameras were left in place for two days after which time they were recovered and the snares were removed by another group, including me and Danielle, led by Gabriele and Francesca.

On my first day we collected around 800 ground snares and about 500 aerial snares from a single path. There are so many it is not practical to count each one so LIPU now weigh the snares to calculate the numbers involved.

From the same path we also recovered 3 dead Robins, 1 Great Tit, 1 Blackbird and 6 Song Thrushes. The dead birds were photographed in-situ for evidential purposes and then disposed of in the forest. We also found and released 3 Song Thrushes and a Blackbird. This was very satisfying and every bird found alive and released gave a huge emotional boost to the volunteers.

On the same path we also discovered two snares baited with dead Robins and a Great Tit. These snares had been specifically set to catch wild cats, which the poachers see as competition. We also found several snares set to catch wild boar and the endemic Sardinian Deer, which is listed as vulnerable at a regional, national, European and global level.

The covert cameras were proving to be successful and on the day before I arrived at the camp a father and son team were filmed in action. The film was passed to the Carabinieri who are investigating the individuals concerned. A further pair of poachers was caught on camera later in the week and their case is also under investigation.

In a restaurant each kebab, known locally as Pillonis De Taccula, consisting of eight Song Thrushes, or seven Song Thrushes and a Blackbird, is sold for between €60 – €80. Smaller birds such as Robins, finches and Great Tits are considered too small for the restaurant trade and are usually eaten by the trapper. Some of the birds are left in the snares for several days before they are recovered by the trapper and the health risk to anyone eating them is very real. It is estimated that c300,000 birds are snared each year and a simple calculation reveals the massive financial rewards for the criminals involved. The annual turnover in this grizzly business could be worth in excess of as €3 million and it is hardly surprising that the trappers are determined to continue their illegal activities.

As I prepared to leave Giovanni thanked me for participating in the camp and told me:

“Our activities in Sardinia, achieved with the invaluable help of LIPU-UK, have been very successful again this year. Thanks to the hard work and commitment of the volunteers we have accomplished important results that have enabled us to make significant progress on the protection of the small migratory birds. We are few in number, but by working together we are confident we will be successful. The acts of violence, inflicted upon us by poachers, during this camp are the confirmation of the effectiveness of our actions.

If we are to solve the issue of illegal bird trapping in the Low Sulcis, it’s essential that this area is acknowledged by the wider European community as one of the Mediterranean poaching emergencies (together with Malta, Cyprus, Sicily, and the Italian regions of Calabria and Campania). It is paramount that international pressure compels the Sardinian Region and the Italian Government to intervene decisively in order to stop this state of illegality that is affecting the south of the island”.

Steve Downing was a Police Officer in West Yorkshire for 36 years.

He served as the Force Wildlife Crime Officer from 1995 to 2004.

From 2004 to 2008 he was a member of the National Wildlife Crime

Unit with responsibility for birds of prey and since 2008 he has worked

as an Investigations Officer with the RSPB.

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Held by Cagliari Provincial Carabinieri Headquarters and LIPU – Italian League for Bird Protection

Cagliari, January 8th 2011

During anti-poaching operations in the town of Capoterra, the Arm of the Carabinieri of Cagliari Provincial Headquarters and Capoterra Station Command, in cooperation with the volunteers of LIPU, made an arrest and denounced 17 bird poachers. During the operations, 9,000 traps for birds, 20 nets for the illegal taking of birds and several snares for boar, deer and wild cat, were removed. In addition, thousands of snares and dozens of deep-frozen birds were seized during the house searches.

Poaching carried out with traps and nets within the areas of southern Sardinia (Sarrabus and Sulcis) causes serious damage to wintering and migratory birds. The number of birds caught and killed annually is estimated at 300,000.

The birds caught by this illegal activity are destined for an equally illegal trade – through retail sale, worth millions of Euros, to restaurants, agriturismi, butcher shops and private individuals.

Poaching causes yet more serious damage when the birds caught belong to Sardinian subspecies or particularly protected species. Predator mammals sustain heavy losses as well, since they’re considered potential competitors to the poachers. For example the wild cat, which is a valuable species for its genetic characteristics which are different from the other wild cat in the rest of Italy, is liable to become extinct because of indiscriminate and uncontrolled poaching.

Since starting in 2006, LIPU anti-poaching patrols have caused a definite reduction in this activity. Volunteers, coming from all over Italy and also from abroad, within the space of four months (from October to January), have been searching the wild mountains of Sulcis to seek and destroy the traps used for catching birds. The investigation activity was performed with the assistance of advanced technology, such as video cameras plugged into high-precision recording devices, which filmed the daily activity of poachers setting up their “paths of death” and retrieving the animals killed.

The new cooperation established between LIPU, the Sardinia Regional Command of the Arm of the Carabinieri and other services controlled by the Commandant, General Luigi Robusto, intensified the control and supression activities of the illegal trade. In the last month, a bird poacher has been arrested for illegal possession of weapons; six were filmed with hidden cameras and another eleven were identified and reported using traditional methods of investigation. The activity of the Carabinieri led to the seizure of thousands of snares and several birds illegally caught.

Of particular relevance to LIPU has been the identification of the poacher who hurt the vice-president on November 19th by throwing rocks at him. The man was identified by the Carabinieri and the representatives of LIPU – “PS”, 37, of Capoterra, was stopped at a checkpoint in the locality of S’Arcu Senna Sa Craba while carrying 25 birds concealed in his waistcoat. All of the birds were Song Thrushes, Robins or tits, and they still had the noose around the neck by which they had been snared. He was also carrying a hand-crafted sling suitable for hurling big rocks.

According to Article 727 of the Penal Code, this shameful method of trapping birds could also fit the crime of Animal Cruelty since the animals remain caught for many hours, in pain, waiting for death.

LIPU is to ask the Government to increase criminal sanctions for bird poaching which should be classified as a felony because of its cruelty and not as a minor infraction.

Statement of the Provincial Commandant of the Carabinieri, Colonel Michele Sirimarco

“The control activity carried out along with LIPU reflects the vocation of the Arm in corresponding to the needs and expectation of the territory. This is important if you consider how the failure to respect the environment and the related violations of the law affect the development and the future of our country. The Carabinieri Stations, after all, are the most suitable organizations, for their widely spread network and close relationship with the area, for improving sensitivity to these matters in the communities where they work and especially in the areas where the respect of nature and environment has economic and cultural merit.”

Statement of Vice-chairman of LIPU, Fulvio Mamone Capria

“LIPU thanks the Arm of the Carabinieri for its commitment during anti-poaching operations that led to extraordinary results in tackling the problem which is still threatening one of the most fragile and important ecosystems in the Mediterranean area. The professionalism demonstrated by the Carabinieri in these months, who had been working side by side with LIPU volunteers, showed that institutions are sensitive to the alarm that LIPU had been raising over the years about bird poaching and poaching in general. LIPU will be present in all court rooms to defend the principle that wild fauna is a non-disposable asset of the State and will respond to any form of violence against our volunteers by any means necessary to defend our freedom to oppose the violence against all animals.”

Statement of the Head of Anti-poaching Camp “Basso Sulcis”, Giovanni Malara

“We’re very satisfied with the cooperation established with Sardinia Regional Command of the Arm of the Carabinieri and the results achieved. This activity will quickly reduce the very serious damage that bird poaching, which is often underestimated, causes to the extraordinary fauna resources in southern Sardinia. The fact that thousands of birds are saved, thanks to our activity, is the just reward for the volunteers who take part every year in LIPU Camps, covering hundreds of kilometres on foot in the search for paths scattered with traps, many times in difficult and dangerous situations. In 2011 our activity will be strengthened even further, also thanks to the very important support of our English department.”


An opportunity to do something concrete for nature, and others set among the richest landscapes of our country for species and biodiversity

Thomas Foschini and Andrea Mazza

Straits of Messina

The annual appointment with the Calabrian side of the Straits of Messina is coming round again. The camp, now in its 27th year, aims actively to protect the 20,000 birds, above all storks and raptors, in the labour of their spring migration along the Strait. The volunteers patrol the areas plagued by poaching along with the Anti-poaching Unit of the State Forest Corps.

During the 2010 season, the volunteers logged 14,000 Honey Buzzards, as well as four Egyptian Vultures, two Griffons, two Lesser Spotted Eagles and seven Black Storks. A heavy toll was paid by the birds nevertheless, with an estimated 400 Honey Buzzards falling.

The camps run from April 30th to May 7th, and May 8th - 15th. Info 329-4228623,

Massaciuccoli LIPU Oasis (Lucca)

For children...

A week immersed in nature in the most intriguing environments of the Park. The first habitat to explore will be the marshes, in boats powered by electric motors. Thanks to the secrets revealed by a mysterious archaeologist, we will be able to rediscover our primordial instincts, living like our primitive ancestors for a day, and foraging out food for survival. The adventure continues with the exploration of a cave and a refreshing plunge into a mountain stream; then a journey by canoe and at last, beneath the stars, we will wait for the dawn by the shores of the sea.

Weekly from June 12th to July 30th. Age 8-13.

Info: 0584-975567,

...And teenagers

The adventure continues, for those older, with camps moving to encounter nature in the wildest and most beautiful parts of the Tuscan Maremma. The boldest can delve into environments rich in history, such as the Etruscan necropolises, or in interest, such as Petrolio, where the hot geothermal springs mingle with the clear waters of the River Farma. The scene changes for a few days with a landing on the Isle of Elba, where we will leave the beaches behind to go trekking in the little-known areas inland. By night we will follow the tracks of wolves, and if we are destined to, succeed in drawing the sword from the stone. The tour is for ten days running from July 1st to 30th.

Info: 0584-975567,

And the adventure continues in Sardinia

We follow up with Sardinia, land of shepherds and brigands, and in particular the Island of Carloforte, whose sheer sea cliffs harbour the most important colony of Eleanora’s Falcon. From there, we will climb up into the wild and mysterious interior of the Barbagia, and for a day we will make a leap backwards in time to the dawn of civilisation, to discover the remains of ancient nuragus villages among the forests and torrents. Then carried by mules, we will cross the rolling dunes of Italy’s only desert.

Runs twice between the 4th and 29th of July: Age 14-17.

Info: 0584-975567,

Also organised by Massaciuccoli, for adults:

Volunteers for nature

Guests of the forest lodge at the Oasis, for a minimum period of a week, will work together in the mornings to leave our mark on the Chiarone Nature Reserve, making clearings, building hides and so on. The afternoons will be taken up with excursions among the most evocative landscapes of the Park of Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccoli and the Apuan Alps, with at the end of the week, a camping excursion into the most beautiful parts of Tuscany.

Runs weekly in August for four weeks.

Info: 0584-975567,

National Park of Cilento, Alburni and Valle di Diano

In the magnificent scenery of the Park, a working camp will be open to volunteers from all of Italy and the rest of the world, to foster relations between people of different sensibilities and cultures on the theme of sustainable development. Among the aims of the initiative, called “Living Nature: the Cilento of Myth”, is that of allowing cooperative interactions between the volunteers who choose to spend some time here, and the local inhabitants, fortifying local traditions through the collaboration. The volunteers will thus indeed become ambassadors for the Cilento, through their experience promoting its food, crafts and wines, and a rural landscape rich in wildlife and flowing waters.

From July 18th-24th and August 8th-14th.

Info: 329-2615123,

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The new format for our annual draw was very successful this year. Thank you to all who took part and helped us raise over £2,000 for bird protection in Italy. The winners of the prizes were:

Mr J Knowles of Bedford
1st prize, £500
Mrs J Kightley of Leicester 2nd prize, £200
Mr D Nind of Neston 3rd prize, £100

If this sort of fund raising is not what you want to support, please let me know. I don’t send tickets to those who have told me they don’t want them – this reduces costs and waste by not printing tickets unnecessarily.

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I think a few words about how these are dealt with might be of interest. In general, cards are sent out by return of post; exceptions to this occur if I am away and for renewals by Bankers’ Order which are dealt with at the end of the month when the bank statements are ready.

At the beginning of each year, I send headquarters, in Parma, a list of current members for the annual printing of membership cards. When these are received, they are filed for use throughout the year and this works quite smoothly. However, there is usually a delay during the production of the cards and this year, there have been printing problems so the delay is greater than usual.

I apologise to members who have sent cheques and who are still waiting for their cards, they will be with you as soon as I have them. If anyone is visiting Italy and needs a card, perhaps to show at a reserve, please call me and I will send a hand written card.

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As you know, I try to maintain value for money for the members by controlling costs in every way that I can. It is not made easier when the Post Office announces a 12.5% rise in the price of a second class stamp.

I am looking at a way of sending renewal reminder letters by email to those who can receive it. I already send news of the Ali to about 130 people, but there must be many more members who could receive routine mail in this way. This would save 36 pence every letter after April! It is entirely voluntary, but if you could help reduce costs in this way, please contact me at

I promise that I do not disclose email addresses to anyone.

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Despite all the current problems, last year’s appeal was a success and we were able to fund the projects we had agreed to support. Thanks to all our members and supporters, we raised the magnificent sum of £21,500 to add to the other funds raised throughout the year. As well as these donations from members and friends, we are grateful for the valuable support we receive from trusts and grant-making bodies. I am pleased to be able to thank the following for their generosity:

Barnwood Bowling Club gave us £40 of the fines levied on members, the AS Butler Trust donated £150, the Peter Smith Charitable Trust for Nature gave £1000 and the Udimore Trust donated £50.

Bird clubs and groups were represented by the Gwent Ornithological Society who donated £50, RSPB Galloway Group gave us £200, the Highland Group £100 and the Worcestershire Conservation Volunteers made a donation of £60 – sincere thanks to them all.

Finally, I am grateful that, for another year, AISPA, the Anglo-Italian Society for the Protection of Animals, continued its valuable support by adopting in its entirety, one of the two major projects. AISPA has played a hugely important part in the founding of LIPU and in supporting LIPU-UK over the years that a special bond exists between our organisations – long may that continue.

LIPU-UK has always felt that the active pursuit of legacies is not our way of working, but we feel that we should acknowledge, with thanks, legacy income from the estate of Miss Vera Bing – without this we would have struggled to meet our targets.


We have accepted another challenging target in our aim of helping LIPU with its vital work in the coming year and the projects we have chosen to support are:

  • Migration of raptors through Sicily – year 8. This survey dovetails with the anti-poaching camp.

  • Anti-poaching – the work goes on in Brescia, on the Messina Strait and in Sardinia.

  • Supplies for Raptor Recovery centres – the provision of drugs, dressings etc for the places that need it.

  • The Marine IBA project – year 3. Government cuts mean the funding has dried up, so we will step in to help.

The commitment is to raise €56,500 and I am sure you will all agree that this work is both vital and worthwhile. Please help us in any way you can; in previous years you, the members, have been extraordinarily generous and I’m sure I can count on a similar generosity this year – thank you all.

My thanks to the translators: Juliet Cobley, Carol Debney, Tony Harris, Caterina Paone, Peter Rafferty and John Walder. Line drawings are courtesy RSPB and photos are © Steve Downing and Danielle Hilbert.

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