© Ingar Jostein Öien / WWF

Reducing the threat from hunting and poaching


Mapping critical habitats in Greece

We will be mapping the key feeding and roosting areas in the wintering and staging grounds of the Lesser White-fronted Goose (LWfG). This will result in the production of comprehensive maps that will include roosting and foraging sites of the LWfG, as well as maps of habitat types and disturbance factors.

The maps will collate all the existing available data regarding the LWfG and will be used in the planning of all the preparatory actions, concrete conservation actions and project operation and monitoring.

As the project progresses the maps will be constantly updated in order to include each season’s monitoring data, so as to fine tune the concrete conservation actions.

This action is lead by Hellenic Ornithological Society HOS.

Assessing hunting impact in Greece

Although the LWfG is a protected species and its hunting is not allowed, hunting of other waterfowl affects the species. Disturbance, lead poisoning and, rarely, direct shooting is considered the main impacts of the hunting to the species. Our investigation will include

  • Record the hunters’ number and distribution
  • Record of the hunting effort (through tallying the shots per hunting day)
  • Co-ordinated controls of the hunting bags
  • Geese stomach collection and stomach content analysis in order to see the number of lead shots swallowed

 The action will take place at the Evros Delta in Greece. Hunting is allowed in a part of the area. According to the results, the appropriate measures, especially regarding the patrolling system in the wetlands, will be scheduled in the framework of the project.

Furthermore, information and proposals will be useful to pertinent authorities for an effective management of the hunting.

This action is lead by Hellenic Agricultural Organisation “DEMETER”.

Patrolling Plans and Smart Patrolling System in Greece

As stated in the international LWfG Single Species Action Plan by UNEP/AEWA, hunting is the most important threat to the species. Illegal hunting is a prominent problem in Greek wetlands and the project sites are no exception.

We will utilize all existing data and collaborate with the respective management authorities of each project site (Evros Delta, Lake Kerkini, Lake Ismarida), and technical and electronic equipment specialists in order to design the installation and operation of a state-of-the-art surveillance system also referred to as Smart Patrolling System (SPS).

The purpose of this action is to design the system to protect the project sites and LWfG from poaching on a 24 hour basis during the period when the LWfG are present. Patrolling plans will be produced for the three project sites and the technical specifications, licenses and permit for the SPS installation will be granted.

Following the design of the patrolling plans for key wintering sites, the Smart Patrolling System will operate for the first time in Greece in aid of nature conservation. In Evros Delta and Lake Kerkini, two fully operational SPS systems will be operated 24 hours a day when the LWfG are present.

The system will be comprised of a main site that will include an observation tower, aided by a peripheral site and a mobile unit. Each system will utilise a highly advanced CCTV circuit with both thermal and day light cameras.

The system will be operated by specially trained wardens that will patrol the area and operate the surveillance equipment. In case of an illegal incident the surveillance team will immediately inform the pertinent authorities in order to take appropriate actions according to national legislation.

Brochure of the Smart Patrol System (in Greek)

The demonstration value of SPS will be widely publicized so as to promote the use of such a system to other protected areas within Greece or Europe and for other Annex I species that are under threat from illegal actions.

This action is lead by Hellenic Ornithological Society HOS.

Mapping of key feeding and roosting areas in Bulgaria

We will collect all available and existing data on the distribution of geese in the three main project sites in Bulgaria: Pyasachnik Reservoir (Plovdiv District, central Bulgaria), Batova (north of Varna, north-eastern Bulgaria), and Zlatiata in the Danubian Plain, north-western Bulgaria.

They will be visited in the surveillance period of the project and the places where geese are feeding and roosting will be mapped and digitalized in order to make distribution maps of the specie and analyses of the information gathered. During the implementation additional data will be gathered referring to the disturbance and hunting activities within these zones.

Precise data on the ecological characteristics of wintering and staging grounds of Fennoscandian population of the species are necessary for the effective conservation of the species and maximization of co-ordination efforts. This action will underpin several preparatory and concrete actions of this project and provides feedback of processed information derived from raw data.

Mapping of the area used by LWfG is also important for the preparation of the management plan for each project site which comprises a major tool for the conservation of the species. Data on the location of wintering and staging grounds of LWfG will become available to relevant authorities in order to avoid planning of developments and infrastructures in sites proved to be of great importance to the species.

This action is lead by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB)

Patrolling in Bulgaria 

New patrol schemes for goose surveillance and anti-poaching will be designed and implemented at three Special Protection Areas (SPAs) areas in Bulgaria: the Pyasachnik Reservoir, Zltiata and Batova).

There is currently no patrol system at these sites. The action aims to combine the efforts undertaken by different authorities, such as the Hunting Association, the forestry authorities and the Regional Inspectorates of Environment and Water, and the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds.

The action also includes training of the authorities’ staff. Training for staff of the local Hunting Units is very useful, as they are present in the field performing patrols all year round, and they are also authorized to sanction violators of the legislation.

This action is lead by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB)

Campaign against illegal hunting in Greece

Illegal hunting in Greek wetlands pose a serious threat to the wintering LWfG, so a systematic campaign against this problem is one of the main actions within the project. This set of actions has two major aims that can be summarized as follows:

Campaign against illegal hunting in the Greek wetlands, including activities such as:

  • Setting up meetings and events with local Hunting Clubs, the Police, local Forestry Service officers etc.
  • Compilation of local Action Plans for the three major wintering areas of the species in Greece
  • Working with local and national media
  • Production of information / educational material
  • Production of a short documentary film about the species and its problems in Greece
  • Production of a “Good Practice Hunting Guide” booklet

Training seminars for game wardens and hunters, including topics such as: 

  • Identification of the LWfG and other goose species
  • Conservation status and ecology of the LWfG and relevant wintering geese species
  • Hunting in NATURA 2000 sites in relation to the need for conserving the biodiversity
The training seminars include the following presentations (download the material in Greek here as a zip file):
  • Presentation on The LIFE+ Project for the Lesser White‐fronted Goose by Manolia Vougioukalou, HOS
  • Presentation on Hunting impact on waterfowl by
    Savas Kazantzidis, FRI HAOD
  • Presentation on Protection Status of the Lake Kerkini wetland by Stylianos Gaidartzis, Forestry Service of Sidirokastro
  • Presentation on The wetlands of Greece and their importance for avifauna by Giorgos Handrinos, MEECC
  • Presentation on Lesser White‐fronted Goose and waterfowl identification byMaria Panagiotopoulou, HOS
  • Presentation on The actions of the Lake Kerkini Management Authority by Theodoros Naziridis, Management Authority of Lake Kerkini
  • Presentation on Hunting Control in the Evros Delta by
    Leonidas Zanelis, Forestry Service of Alexandroupoli
  • Presentation on The actions of the Evros Delta Management Authority by Eleni Makrygianni, Evros Delta Management Authority

This action is lead by the Dept. of Aesthetic Forests, National Parks and Wildlife Management, Ministry of Environment, Energy & Climatic Change of Greece, in close collaboration with the Hellenic Ornithological Society.


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