Cooperation with the electric company to improve protection of the Saker Falcon

First cooperation between an NGO for bird protection and the Serbian national electric company. More than 30 volunteers set 30 safe nests on transmission line towers for critically endangered Saker Falcon.

People

0 (volunteer)

Money

7 000 EUR

Time

3 months / 2 years

Organization

Serbian Society for the Protection and Study of Birds

Country

Serbia

Location

Vojvodina

Protection level

Achievements
First cooperation between an NGO for bird production and the Serbian national electric company.
Raising public awareness about the critically endangered species, the saker falcon.
30 safe nests installed
30 volunteers from Vojvodina participating
Finding a compromise between pigeon breeding and falcon societies, delaying pigeon competitions or changing locations during the falcon nesting season.

Problem/opportunity

Problem
Critically endangered bird species at the global level
Inadequate nesting sites, on power line poles
Habitat erosion
Electrocution
Lack of knowledge about the state of the nesting population
Poisoning of falcons
Opportunity
Cooperation with the electric company
Monitoring the population of the saker falcon

Planning

Partner roles
The Serbian electric company (EMS) enabled the installation of safe nests on power longline structures in Vojvodina. EMS provided workers, cranes and equipment for their installation.

Implementation

Project key stages
Obtaining financing
Cooperation with the electric company
Population census
Building the nests
Installing the nests
Monitoring the use of safe nests
Workshop with pigeon breeders
Actions
Initiated the meeting/cooperation with EMS. Presenting the project activities.
Obtaining a work permit from the Provincial Institute for Nature Protection.
Establishment of partnership and the role of the electric company. Cooperation agreement signed for the project to protect the saker falcon in Serbia.
Complete population census, with the participation of some 30 volunteers (members of DZPSS).
Building the safe nests/boxes in the most threatened active nests on power line poles and in former nesting territories (census data from 10 years earlier).
Installing the nests in cooperation with EMS in several phases.
10-12 installation tours, each with 2-3 nests. It is necessary to work in stages as the power on the longlines needs to be completely turned off throughout the area, causing blackouts for a large population.
Public discussions with interested parties (pigeon breeding associations, falcon breeders) suffering direct damages from the saker falcon and other predators, and the inspection services.
Offering a solution to the conflict (delaying pigeon competitions or moving their locations during falcon nesting periods).
Cooperation with the Birdlife partner MME in Hungary to ring young saker falcons for satellite telemetry tracking.
Drafting promotional and educational materials

Change

Positive effects on environment
Only 1 pair of saker falcons took up nesting in the 30 installed safe nests, the others were inhabited by the Eurasian hobby, kestrel, buzzard and raven.
Positive economic and social changes
Social: the project was followed regularly by the regional media, and the scientific and general public were informed of the issues to protect a critically endangered bird species (about its habitat, electrocution, number of individuals) in Serbia.
Economic: reduced damages to the electricity network due to the electrocution of birds
Social: First cooperation in Serbia between an NGO for the protection of birds and the national electric company.
Social: Local volunteers included in the work, from the ages of 18 to 60 years.
Social: Census of the saker falcon population. Number of nesting pairs (16–21) of saker falcons and the list of all nests of ravens and grey crows which are potential nests for the saker falcon (which takes over their nests as it does not build its own).

Replication and recommendations

Recommendations
We would take a more serious approach to this project in the sense of seeking additional funding.
Inclusion of the general public through campaigns.
Adopt a saker falcon nest, as a possible communication message.
Public discussions on the importance of the saker falcon for the region and country, as the only critically endangered bird of prey.
Greater pressures on institutions to participate in the project and to give a greater contribution in terms of specific protection measures.
Signing of a Raptors memorandum of cooperation.
Needed policy improvements
Stronger inspection controls over the illegal tilling of the salt flats and steppe in Vojvodina.
Supervision over the illegal activities of pigeon breeders.
Stronger control over the distribution and use of prohibited pesticides (farmers) and by pigeon breeders (who rub furadan, lanatan and krezan onto the neck of the pigeon where it cannot reach, thereby killing the saker falcon and other predators).
Nature conservation should be the responsibility of various institutions.

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