Guns raised to the flying flocks
Central Europe is one of the most important wintering areas for wild geese and other water birds in Eurasia. Greylag geese from Scandinavia, White-fronted and Bean geese from the Siberian tundra and more than 20 species of ducks use the lowlands between the Oder and the English Channel as a resting place over winter. Particularly in the early winter months, millions of water birds gather in the large protected areas of eastern Germany - almost the entire Eurasian population make a stopover here.
The birds need large lakes and rivers for roosting at night, while during the day they search for food on harvested fields, pastures and meadows. Especially the flight to and from the sleeping waters at dusk is a breathtaking spectacle.
What for some is a fantastic natural spectacle, for others it is a prey! Hunters position themselves behind bushes or in ditches close to the roosting waters and wait for the birds. When the birds return in the evening or leave in the morning, the low flying birds flying are shot at. The geese, which often fly together with cranes, are bombarded with scattered shot loads of highly toxic lead - often other protected species are also 'accidentally' or intentionally taken from the sky. Later - often only after several weeks - the animals die of lead poisoning and infection. Many birds that fall into the reeds only a few metres from the hunters are needlessly left for dead and simply forgotten. Officially, Germany's hunters shoot between 50,000 and 80,000 geese and about half a million ducks a year.