On Friday, 19th of April 2013, at Sokaras area of Gortynas Municipality, seven Common Buzzards (Buteo buteo) and two Common Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) were successfully released into their natural habitat. The wild birds were initially sent from University of Crete-Natural History Museum of Crete (NHMC) to the “ANIMA” and “ALKIONI” Rehabilitation Centres for treatment and returned back to Crete healthy and strong. Wild birds’ release was followed by a series of presentations on biodiversity, illegal use of poisoned baits, Common Buzzards and Wildlife Rehabilitation Centres, titled “Wild Birds protected from poisoned baits”. The series of presentations was organized by the University of Crete-Natural History Museum of Crete, in cooperation with the Municipality of Gortynas, member of the “European Network of Municipalities Against Illegal Poisoning” (ENMAIP). The event took place at the Sokaras Cultural Association Hall.
The event was held within the framework of the European Union’s Life + Biodiversity project on “Innovative actions against illegal poisoning in EU Mediterranean Pilot Areas” [LIFE09 NAT/ES/000533], implemented by the Natural History Museum of Crete since October 2010 in pilot areas of Crete (Psiloritis, Asterousia, Dikti). The wild birds’ release and the public awareness raising event were organized with the collaboration of the Association for the Protection and Welfare of Wildlife “ANIMA” and the Aegean Wildlife Hospital “ALKIONI”, who both treated the wild birds coming from different areas of Crete and found either injured or poisoned, and also the Friends of Environment Association operating in Sokaras and Messara wider area.
The objective of the aforementioned events were to raise awareness of local communities of the European Network of Municipalities Against Illegal Poisoning (ENMAIP) on poisoned baits’ impacts on wildlife and biodiversity of Crete, and also on public health.
The event has drawn massive attendance of local residents, particularly young people of Sokaras, while friends and visitors to the area, stakeholders and the Mayor of Gortynas, Mr. Nikolaos Shinarakis, had a strong emotional experience, participating into the release of wild birds at Faragiani Kefala. During the series of presentations, which followed the wild birds’ release, attendees had the opportunity to learn about the biodiversity protection activities of the University of Crete-Natural History Museum of Crete, the buzzards, their habitat and the threats that human activities pose to their survival, but also to be informed about the activities of the wild life rehabilitation centres.
From the Municipality of Gortynas, besides the mayor Mr. N. Schinarakis, who gave a welcome speech, also attended Mr. George Manouras, Deputy Mayor of Kofinas Municipal Section, Mr. Konstantinos Segos, president of Sokaras Local Community, and S. Xylouris and G. Genitsaridis, members of the Municipal Council of Gortynas.
Mr. George Faridis, president of the Friends of Environment Association welcomed the associates of Natural History Museum of Crete and managed the excellent organization of the event, while Gortynas Municipality officials and members of the Board of the Association of Friends of the Environment contributed significantly to the event.