LIFE+ ‘Reason for Hope’ Reintroduction of Northern Bald Ibis in Europe 2014-2019
by Johannes Fritz
The project will be implemented in the following Member States:
* Austria, Italy, Germany
Runtime of the Project:
* Jan. 1st 2014 till Dec. 31st 2019
*Association ‘Förderverein Waldrappteam’ (Austria)
* Associated Beneficiaries: AZI Alpenzoo Innsbruck (Tyrol/Austria) BGH City Burghausen (Bavaria/Germany) KLF Konrad Lorenz Research Station - Core Facility der Univeristy Vienna (Austria) PNV Parco Natura Viva Garda Zoological Park s.r.l. (Italy) TGS Zoo Vienna (Austria) TPR Gamepark Rosegg (Austria) ZSB Zoo Salzburg (Austria) LIFE12 BIO/AT/000143
Project Objectives and Expected Results:
1.The main objective of the project is the reintroduction of the critically endangered Northern Bald Ibis (NBI, Geronticus eremita) in Europe as a migratory bird, including a migration tradition. This should ensure survival of the species with its characteristic migratory lifestyle. The work is based on a 10 year feasibility study along the IUCN guidelines, concluded with the establishment of a first small migratory breeding group. Experimental studies and long-time experience with free-living NBI groups have proven the sustainable survivability of NBI colonies in Europe, without conflicts with other species incl. humans. Eight partners in three countries aim to establish migratory breeding colonies in Burghausen, in Salzburg and in a third suitable place, with a common migration tradition towards a wintering area in the southern Tuscany (WWF Oasi Laguna di Orbetello). In 2019 the whole population should reach a minimum of 120 migratory birds to exceed the Minimum Viable Population Size.
2. The majority of birds will be electronically monitored by the use various types of GPS tracker, particularly during the migration journeys. Live tracking via internet and an application for Smartphones will allow the public to track a selection of birds.
3. Innovative methods and techniques for conservation, animal monitoring and science shall be implemented and further developed. We aim to initialize the application of methods and techniques used and developed in the course of the project for other endangered bird species in Europe, to support the implementation of the EC Bird Directives (2009/147/EC), and the conservation resp. reintroduction of NBIs in other regions of their former distribution range.
4. Genetic screening shall optimize the genetic variability.
5. Six human-led migrations with hand-raised juveniles will be performed, using juvenile NBI from sedentary free-flight colonies and zoo colonies.
6. Monitoring and management of the birds, including escorting of the birds during the autumn migration period, shall reduce the losses by illegal hunting (as the major threat). An information campaign for Italian hunters will be implemented, in collaboration with major Italian hunting associations. In addition, privat lawsuits will be performed against illegal NBI hunters, in collaboration with Italian key NGOs. These actions are expected to reduce the hunting pressure on the NBI on a medium time level to ensure sustainable development of the colonies. These actions should also become an essential added value for other endangered migratory bird species.
7. Public relations activities, the continuation of persistent media coverage and the increasing presence of the NBI aim to raise awareness for the species and to establish the NBI as a flagship species for the animal protection, for sustainable land use and for the value of biodiversity.
8. Continuation of substantial basic research on bird flight and bird migration.