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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: December 2018

13 - Back into European Wildlife

from Part III - Saving Species


The northern bald ibis is a migratory bird with the characteristic fate of many extremely rare species: critically endangered in the wild, but prospering in captivity. From 1949, individuals from former colonies in the Moroccan Atlas were kept in European zoos. Currently, there are more than 2000 individuals in numerous zoo breeding colonies around the world. At the same time, the wild populations have dramatically declined. The last Syrian individual with the species-typical migratory lifestyle disappeared in 2014. In the same year, the reintroduction project of the Waldrappteam (Waldrapp is the German name of the species) turned into a large and popular European conservation project, co-financed by the European Union’s LIFE program, the EU's financial instrument supporting environmental, nature conservation, and climate action projects throughout the EU. The reintroduction of a migratory northern bald ibis population in Europe is still the focal point of the activities, but the scope of the project is far beyond that. The main added values are campaigns against illegal hunting and electrocution of migrating birds, as well as basic research on bird flight and bird migration.

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