Mallorca: Hunting-free zones on the holiday island
German pop and rock star Peter Maffay sets an example!
Majorca – Britain and Germany‘s favourite holiday resort and holiday home island- famous throughout Europe for its hospitality, beaches and its lush natural habitats. What one rarely finds in the tourist guides is that fact that the Balearic Islands are also enormously important for bird migration because of their location and that Spanish hunters shoot hundreds of thousands of their feathered guests every autumn; or use decoy birds to lure them into fine mesh mist nets.
Trapping of song birds with the ‘filat’, a large nylon net some 15 square metres in size, is a long-established tradition on Majorca and is still practised today by some 3,000 officially licensed trappers. In addition the island has some 24,000 hobby hunters who, according to estimates made by ornithologists, shoot down more as a half a million migrating birds every year. These include bird species whose populations are threatened such as the Turtle Dove, Quail and Common Snipe. “These birds have declined drastically in numbers in Germany and in some federal states are in danger of local extinction” states Heinz Schwarze, President of the Bonn-based Committee Against Bird Slaughter. “Hunting of migrant birds on Majorca and other Mediterranean islands contradicts and nullifies efforts made in our country to protect rare species.
As all demands to ban the hunting of migrant birds have been ignored or rejected, CABS and its partner organisation on Majorca, the GOB (Grup Balear ´Ornitologia i Defensa de la Naturalesa) have developed a concept for the creation of wide-scale private hunting-free zones (Refugi di caca). The main thrust of this effort is aimed at the large privately owned Fincas, in which hunters and trappers up until now have been able to pursue their ‘hobby’ undisturbed by payment of a form of annual rent.
This practice will hopefully come to an end in many places as, other than is the case in some EU states, property owners can officially register their property as a ‘no-go zone’ for hunting and trapping. The declaration of a finca as a bird protection reserve (Refugi di caca) must, in accordance with the hunting law, be legally applied for by the owner from the Balearic Islands environment ministry (Conselleria de Medi Ambient) jointly with a conservation organisation. Biologist Gerald Hau from the GOB in Palma de Majorca states: “Our experts assist property owners with the official application, provide an expertise, and supply the necessary signs”. He adds that the first discussions with interested parties have been exceptionally successful. Two large Fincas with a total area of almost 100 hectares have already been officially declared hunting-free. The German rock and pop star Peter Maffay has also contacted the conservationists and declared that he wishes to register his 140 ha Finca near Pollenca as a bird protection reserve. The progress of the campaign is to be documented in an annual online report. The GOB have printed a leaflet (available from CABS email@example.com or the GOB info@gobMallorca.com in German, Spanish and Mallorquin) “Make your Finca a hunting-free zone - transform it into a bird protection reserve”!
More information and pictures from: Dipl.-Biol. Axel Hirschfeld, Komitee gegen den Vogelmord, Tel.: +49 228 665521, Gerald Hau (GOB), Tel. +34-616 310 458