Analysis 29 Jul 16

Serbia Turns Blind Eye to Rare Bird Slaughter

Once a common sight, turtle doves and quails are increasingly rare in Europe - thanks partly to illegal poaching which is also rampant in Serbia.

Dragan Gmizic
BIRN
Belgrade
 

As the official start of the quail hunting season on August 1 looms, the atmosphere at the Bird Protection and Study Society of Serbia, DZPPS, is becoming increasingly busy. While some members are getting in touch with ornithologists all over Serbia, others are adding details to maps of local hunting grounds. The more details they have, the more prepared they will be for the coming season, DZPPS members say.

The information that ornithologists are most interested in is on the number of foreign hunters - and on the designated quail hunting areas. The beginning of the hunting season coincides with the time when turtle doves and quails migrate from Northern to Southern Europe and the Near East.

Lying on one of the most important bird migration routes, Serbia is an attractive destination for hunters of these species.

According to the Hunting Association of Serbia, most turtle dove and quail hunters come from Italy, Cyprus, Greece as well as from Austria, Hungary and Germany.

The importance to tourism of hunting quails and turtle doves is a topic that hunters and nature conservationists have been arguing about for years. While the Hunting Association and hunting tour agencies claim the potential of hunting tourism is insufficiently exploited, ecologists say hunting is a major reason why stocks of these birds are tumbling.

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