CABS´ Bird Protection Camps
Information and application for voluntary participation
Together with its local and international partner organisations, CABS conducts large scale bird protection operations during spring and autumn migration in Italy and on Cyprus and Malta. Other activities take place in France, Spain and of course our home base Germany.
More than 200 volunteer bird lovers from all over Europe participate annually in these operations, collect or dismantle between 25,000 and 30,000 bird traps and nets, and help to bring hundreds of poachers to justice.
To participate it is important to be mentally and physically fit, be able to work in a small but dedicated international team and be prepared to cope with potentially tense and difficult situations. Basic ornithological skills are necessary and a firm commitment to nature conservation and bird protection a must! The qualifications to take part in our camps vary according to the operational area and these are outlined below or in a separate link.
Basic country operational information
Basic information on our large scale bird protection camps in Italy and on Malta and Cyprus can be found here:
- Brescia, Northern Italy in autumn
- The island of Cyprus in spring and autumn
- The island of Malta in spring and autumn
Interested in participation? Read on for the basic information and conditions .....
Our operations are not holiday camps - the working day (and often night) is long and strenuous; but they do offer the opportunity to see and enjoy large numbers of migrating and resident birds at close quarters - and to assist in protecting them on part of their hazardous journey to winter quarters in Africa or their European breeding sites. While we welcome participation from professional journalists and photographers/film makers, operations take precedence over personal or professional requirements.
Many of our operations are not without an element of danger and skills in the location of traps and nets are required. This can however be learnt from our experienced team leaders and long term volunteers. Aggression by poachers, sometimes carrying firearms, is not uncommon, and keeping a cool head and a displaying a mature and calm reaction is essential. Here again there is no substitute for experience and teams always have a mix of old hands and greenhorns.
In all the countries we operate in we maintain a good relationship with the local conservationists and law enforcement agencies. The degree of close cooperation achieved varies from country to country.
The dates given in our annual timetable are approximate. Walls have ears - or more topically - poachers and their supporters are only a click away and are regular visitors to our website. For this reason we are naturally very careful in our selection of volunteers.
Participants must be over 18 years of age - there is no upper limit! Students or pensioners are equally welcome - as well as all those in between (but see comments under country operations). Our teams are generally a mix of European nationalities. A good command of spoken English is therefore essential. If you speak French, German, Greek, Italian or Spanish there is the possibility - after you have won your spurs in Brescia or on Malta - to be selected for one of our more specialised operations.
We are looking for team players and not lone wolves. Tolerance in respect of other nationalities and cultures go without saying. CABS is a colourful and homogeneous mix - from Vegan wildlife conservationists to ecological hunters. What we definitely don’t need is missionary zeal.
Every year we have more applicants than available places on our camps so don’t be disappointed if we do not take you the first time around.
You may find some comments by first timers on their experiences with CABS of interest.
Which camp is suitable for me?
Brescia, Northern Italy
- The camp in Brescia runs for some 4 weeks and we accept a limited number of new applicants for a week at a time. Over 70 volunteers take part in this camp every year. Confrontation with aggressive poachers is much less likely than in Southern Italy or on Cyprus and Malta. Applicants for Brescia must be fit and, our experience shows that volunteers over 55 years of age have problems with the strenuous ascents and altitude.
- Read more here about the special requirements for Brescia.
- Bird protection camps on Malta are held every year during spring (7 - 10 days) and autumn migration (2 - 4 weeks). Teams of 3 - 4 operate independently in allocated areas with the main focus on ensuring that the arrival, night roost and departure of migrant birds, in particular birds of prey and other large species such as storks and herons, have a safe passage. We achieve this first and foremost by our visible presence in our Bird Guard T-shirts at roosts or known poaching hotspots, patrolling passage corridors as well as openly or covertly recording and reporting incidents of wildlife crime. We work closely with the local conservationists of BirdLife Malta as well as the environmental unit of the Malta police.
- An EU driving licence is not a must but a useful team attribute. Traffic drives on the left in Malta.
- Accommodation is in a reasonably priced hotel with good access to the countryside. The food is not exciting (school dinner quality) but nourishing.
- Good birdwatching identification skills of European bird species are valuable.
- Volunteers selected for operations will be sent a copy of our comprehensive brief Malta - tips for first-timers.
- After arrival on Malta CABS reimburses all travel costs to and from Malta from the nearest airport in your home country. Accommodation costs and half-board (breakfast and dinner) are also covered by CABS. A small charge of 10.00 per day/person is levied to cover other overheads including airport transfer etc. This charge can be waived for students, unemployed persons and pensioners.
- Since 2009, bird protection camps on Cyprus are held every year during spring and autumn migration (between 7 and 19 days duration). Participation is normally restricted to those who have successfully taken part in a CABS camp in Brescia or on Malta. An exception can be made for those with experience on similar operations on Cyprus or elsewhere, or who possess special local knowledge or language skills (Greek or Turkish).
- Those selected for operations on Cyprus will receive a separate brief.
- Initial selection is based on personal correspondence with the applicant and, as necessary, a telephone or Skype interview with an English-speaking CABS board member.
- If you wish to be considered for participation in one of our camps please complete the questionnaire and application form. If you have a prepared CV please send it to us in addition to the completed questionnaire.