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Europe Ready To Welcome Migrants!

Almost for four centuries, this bird was not seen in the European sky. It was last spotted there reportedly in the 17th Century. However, they are being brought back again! The migratory birds actually forgot their route to Europe, though originally found in southern France and later in the Middle East, northern Africa and, southern and central Europe. But, how do they return to the continent?
A group of scientists is trying hard to bring the bird, known as Northern Bald Ibis, back to Europe. In fact, the scientists have been making the effort for many years. Some of them believe that Northern Bald Ibis didn’t return to Europe mainly because of severe cold weather.


Northern Bald Ibis

In the past, these birds – also called Waldrapp– were found in barren, semi-desert or rocky habitats, often close to running water, in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Later, they were available only in zoo gardens. Then, some strange things happened with them, as these birds failed to recognise their routes to Europe. They could also be found in the Mediterranean region and West Asia. But, they failed to reach Europe even from West Asia.
Their unusual behaviour prompted scientists to think about a different strategy. Corinna Esterer, an ornithologist, has decided to bring the Northern Bald Ibis family back to the wildlife carefully. Other scientists are helping Corinna, who has managed to make contact with the birds through her megaphone.


Corinna Esterer

The scientists had discovered a small breeding ground of this rare species in Syria in 2002. However, Lebanon-based the Society for the Protection of Nature mentioned in a report in 2015 that the birds left the area because of the ISIS attacks and they were scheduled to arrive in Ethiopia.
Meanwhile, the scientists recently implemented the Waldrapp Project in an attempt to reintroduce the birds to Austria and Germany. The project is basically helping the birds learn how to migrate, using micro-light planes that feature a pilot and the human foster parents (the birds imprinted on at birth) to lead the birds to the Italian city of Tuscany and other European cities.

Biologist Johannes Fritz has taken the responsibility of guiding the birds to Europe. Talking to the media, he recently said that he was inspired by the movie, Fly Away Home. He also said that his main aim was to ensure the birds’ safe return to Europe. Fritz, who has been doing this job for the last 10 years, revealed that he was using GPS tracker to lead the birds to Europe.
It really is pioneering, the first (example) of its kind in which we have reintroduced a bird species with the help of human-led migration,” stressed Fritz. According to the biologist, the success of the programme has resulted in 84 waldrapps thriving in Austria and Germany. While the project was intended to cease operations in 2019, Fritz recently applied for additional funding from the European Union with a goal of reaching 500 self-sustaining birds by 2057. He expressed hope that members of Northern Bald Ibis family would roam at the top of the Alps in the coming years (as mentioned by Swiss naturalist Conrad Gesner in his book in 1557).

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