Our migratory bird camps in Calabria
Nowhere else in Italy is the illegal killing of birds of prey as widespread as on the Strait of Messina. While the situation on the Sicilian side of the Strait has calmed down considerably over the past two decades, hundreds of poachers continue to stalk birds of prey on the mainland side (Calabria). 'Legal' Songbird hunting is also widespread. However, many violations are often recorded, such as the use of illegal electronic decoys or shooting outside of specified times and of other protected species. In addition there are many finch-trappers with clap nets in gardens and olive groves.
Until 2012 the Italian League for the Protection of Birds (LIPU) carried out the missions, CABS took over the leadership and extended the actions in 2013. The Karl Kaus-Foundation has supported us in financing our migratory bird protection camps on the Strait of Messina since 2014.
Bird of Prey Camp in May and September
Our largest operations in southern Italy take place along the Strait of Messina and in the Aspromonte mountains each May and September. The camp regularly consists of up to 20 camp participants - mainly Italian bird conservationists - with a good knowledge of the area. With the help of the weather forecast and current satellite images, we agree a strategy every evening where to best deploy our teams. Depending on the wether conditions, the migratory birds will make landfall in completely different places along the boot of Italy. Our bird guards occupy the main migratory routes and protect the passage of the birds of prey. When shots are fired, the participants try to identify and film the poachers and inform the police, who are on duty in spring with several jeeps and helicopters. Known bird-trapping areas are also regularly checked during the missions.
The incidents of birds of prey killing - which mainly involves honey buzzards and marsh harriers - has now massively reduced as a direct result of our operations. At some bird protection camps no more shots are observed, but our informants confirm that there are still cases of poaching. Our task is therefore to maintain our presence so that the "old tradition" is not revived. In addition, we use our freed up resources to work against bird-trapping, which is still a major problem in Calabria.
Investigating the bird dealers
Calabria and nearby Sicily is the epicentre of illegal finch trapping in Italy. Our members in southern Italy have known the scene for decades and regularly conduct undercover research in the bird trading circles. As a result of our findings and reports, the authorities regularly prosecute criminal bird smugglers and poacher gangs who export large numbers of protected birds such as goldfinches, linnets and siskins to Malta for the pet market across Italy and the borders.