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Requirements for participation in the Brescia camp

Read this page carefully before applying below to take part in our annual autumn bird protection camp in Brescia N. Italy.

A CABS member dismantling a mist netA CABS member dismantling a mist netMany of our operations throughout Europe (mainly in the Mediterranean region) are not without an element of danger and risk and require practice in locating traps and nets in rough woodland terrain. Reaction in the face of armed and sometimes angry poachers also requires experience. In addition, we only give detailed information on dates and operational areas to people we can trust. For these reason we only take people we already know or who are credibly recommended to us as committed and capable conservationists on the majority of our camps.

In the first instance therefore we prefer to invite CABS greenhorns to earn their spurs at one of our large scale annual bird protection camps in Northern Italy.

For these operations we need a large number of activists and the activities are less dangerous than comparable operations in Southern Italy or on Cyprus or Malta. As we only have a small number of free places available, and these are hotly contested, please understand that we can not take every applicant.

Rough going in the Southern AlpsRough going in the Southern AlpsIn order to take part it is essential that you comply with the following conditions:

• You must be at least 18 years of age. In our experience volunteers over 55 find the steep ascents, rough terrain and high altitude difficult.

• Good physical fitness is essential. Our teams undertake daily strenuous tours of up to 15 km and with a height difference of 1,000 m (3,300 ft) in a steep and mountainous area of the Southern Alps. You should be honest with yourself about your physical condition in advance - once you are in the mountains you are committed and in some cases extraction over the same route can be hazardous.

• Much of our movement is off track in difficult terrain. A head for heights, surefootedness and a good sense of orientation (in some cases also in the dark) are absolutely essential. Alpinists divide mountain walks into four categories. Those we conduct during the Brescia bird protection camp are equal to the trekking difficultly grade Alpine hikes T4 - track barely exists:

In some places movement is on hands and knees and the going is rough (see photo). Participants must have experience of moving on exposed and steep terrain. Hard wearing and stable trekking boots are essential. Otherwise a good sense of orientation is required and alpine experience is useful. In bad weather a return by the same route can be difficult”.

Many people overrate their fitness and are then a handicap to themselves or their team, Participants should be capable of the ascent of the normal 2,000 metre (6,500 ft) alpine mountains in above average time - or complete a half marathon run in under 2 ½ hours.

• You must be able to communicate in English. It is far better, and a great advantage to all, if you also speak and understand Italian. French is also useful. Team spirit and tolerance are important attributes. Vegan wildlife conservationists and ecological hunters have to live and work together - as must bank employees and present day hippies. What we don’t need is missionary zeal!

• Creature comforts are few and basic. The teams are accommodated in multi-bed rooms with simple bungalow apartments. Sleep is a luxury and lunch, coffee or tea breaks are non-existent. You can be thankful, after 12 hours in the mountains, to just fall into bed at 8.00 pm.

• In the field any form of illegal activity is taboo. We work closely and very successfully with the police. Even though it is sometimes very tempting, never forget that legal hunting facilities such as shooting ranges, permitted mist net installations and decoy bird aviaries are totally out of bounds. Hands off!

• The mountain roads are winding and those prone to motion sickness will have problems when deploying to operational areas at high speeds on roads with countless serpentines. Bring medication with you if you are a bad traveller.

• Don’t forget to pack a bit of courage and grit. Serious incidents are the exception rather than the rule - you must be quite clear that we are not exactly the hunters’ flavour of the month. In the best case they are loud and angry; but there have been incidents in the past where scuffles have taken place. The slogan here is “on your bike - fast” - we are not looking for martial arts experts!

CABS takes care of or reimburses:

• travel costs to and from Brescia

• all transport costs within the operational area

• accommodation costs for the simple bungalows with multi-bed room (bed linen provided), a kitchenette and shower and washing machine

Travel to and from Brescia can be by train or private car, and in some cases we can organise shared transport. Those coming from farther afield can take a flight (please clear this with us first). Reimbursement of costs for the use of private cars is restricted to fuel costs on presentation of the invoices.

Participants are only required to pay for their own food. As a rule the occupants of a bungalow either cook for themselves or go to a pizzeria in the evenings.

Application

If you are interested in taking part in this year’s operation in Northern Italy, and fulfil the conditions outlined above, you can apply now for selection by completing the questionnaire .

On selection volunteers will be sent a copy of the brochure Brescia for first-timers which should answer all further questions.