Reducing illegal hunting during the difficult journey of bird migration is the target of the international awareness raising campaign “Leaving is Living” [1] that was launched by the partners of BirdLife International in Greece, Spain and Italy. The campaign focuses on three of the most crucial areas of Europe where illegal hunting is intense during migration: the Ionian Islands, southwest Sardinia, and the provinces of Catalonia, Valencia and Aragon. The areas in question are the stopovers birds make for rest and food before they continue their long journey to the north or the south. Instead, they are captured and illegally shot in thousands.

The campaign aims at informing and raising public awareness for as many European citizens as possible in order to reduce illegal bird hunting during spring and autumn migration. More specifically, its objective is to raise awareness of local communities, local authorities, as well as hunters with regards to the effects of illegal killing on bird migration. Moreover, making the younger generation understand the rationale of banning spring hunting is the most important objective so that young people can find a new way of connecting with nature. As part of the awareness raising campaign, every country implements a series of initiatives including the education of authorities, the organization of local events, the production of documentaries, the implementation of educational projects on the environment, as well as the collaboration with public figures who support the message of the campaign.
Hellenic Ornithological Society (H.O.S.) has collaborated with the actor Antonis Kafetzopoulos who has voluntarily and gratis accepted to contribute to the recording of 2 radio spots which already air on central and local (Corfu and Zakynthos) radio stations.
As Malamo Korbeti, policy coordinator of H.O.S., underlines: “It is important to understand that European and national laws ban hunting during some specific periods, such as spring, in order to ensure biodiversity and common good. By putting an end to illegal hunting of migrating birds we not only help the birds, which run an eminent danger, but also, we make an effort to change our relationship with nature”.
“The campaign “Leaving is Living” allows us to share with local communities and local authorities the uniqueness of migration, focusing, on one hand, on the astonishing effort of the birds to survive, and, on the other hand, on the need to recognize and respect their right to migrate safely”, stresses out Fulvio Mamone Capria, the president of the Italian organization LIPU.
Bird migration is a spectacular phenomenon that occurs annually for millions of years and since ancient times excited the imagination of people. However, migration is also about survival: birds need to reach the most suitable corners of the earth to breed or avoid the harsh winter. But every year millions of migrating birds do not reach their destination due to exhaustion, captivity and illegal killing.
Specifically, illegal killing of wild birds in Greece during spring migration has been going on for many decades on the Ionian Islands (Zakynthos, Strofadia, Corfu, Paxoi, Antipaxoi and Othonoi). Birds which are exhausted due to their long journey from Sub-saharan Africa are uncontrollably and illegally shot in thousands by hunters (mostly turtle doves, golden orioles, raptors and herons). It is noteworthy that the population of turtle doves, for example, has decreased by 20% since 1990 in Greece, while the species is in “unfavourable conservation status” throughout Europe.
It should also be noted that the Ionian Islands, and, especially Strofadia and Zakynthos, are the first stopover of the turtle dove as it migrates from Sub-saharan Africa, a journey of about 2,000 km over the desert and the Mediterranean Sea.
In Italy, more than 300,000 birds, including species such as the blackbird, the European robin and other small birds are trapped with snares and sold to local restaurants to be served as local traditional specialty. Likewise, in Spain, about two million migrating birds are caught in ’parany’ traps, which glue the animals to the ground. Both methods are illegal, as they do not work selectively.
 [1] The campaign takes place with the contribution of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union (LIFE+ Information and Communication) and with the title “A Safe Haven for Wild Birds: Changing attitudes towards illegal killing in north Mediterranean for the protection of the European biodiversity” (LIFE11INF/IT/253). H.O.S., the Italian LIPU, and the Spanish SEO, all partners of BirdLife International, run the campaign which started in August 2012 and will be completed in January 2016.
For further information contact Media & Communications Officer, Katerina Giosma E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Greece, Italy and Spain join forces against illegal hunting Pavlos

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