News Release

Rare and endangered species successfully return to nature

17 September 2013
Release of the Montagu's Harriers
Photo: Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia

Three Montagu's Harrier (Circus pygargus) chicks, found on 2 July 2013 during agricultural activities taking place near the village of Lower Vapa, were temporarily housed in shelters for wildlife at Palic Zoo, and were then released to their natural habitat in Sjenicko-Pester plateau.

After assessing that the species were capable of independent living, the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia, an IUCN Member, and the Reserve Uvac Ltd. in cooperation with the wildlife shelter of Palic Zoo, organized the release of the birds in the same place where they were found just one month before by local resident Sead Papic.

Montagu's Harrier is a rare bird of prey listed as strictly protected in Serbia and also included in the international lists of protected species. In Serbia, nests can be found in the regions of Vojvodina and of the Sjenicko-Pešter plateau. The birds found in July this year on Pešter are probably the first record of this species nesting during modern times in Serbia.

The successful return to nature of the three Montagu's Harriers is a significant contribution to the protection of this endangered species – and to biodiversity conservation in Serbia as a whole. According to the Director of the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia, Alexander Dragisic, their numbers in Serbia have been recently estimated at only 10 to 17 pairs. The occurrence of the Harrier on Pešter field reaffirms the natural value of the area, which is why the Department has initiated steps to protect it as an exceptional example of specific reed moist habitats. These provides habitats for the survival of many vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered species. Pešter field was in fact already declared a Ramsar site in 2006 for its rich diversity in bird species.

"Returning wildlife to its natural habitat is always a big challenge, because young birds easily connect to humans", said Kristijan Ovari from the wildlife shelter of Palic Zoo.

"What is also the value of today's action is the return of an extremely rare and endangered species to its natural habitat in Serbia. This occurred thanks to the timely reaction of villagers who found the birds, and the successful cooperation of Special Nature Reserve Uvac, Palic wildlife shelter and the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia", continued the Director of the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia, Alexander Dragisic.

On this occasion, Branko Bjelić, Director of the Special Nature Reserve Uvac expressed the hope that the Reserve Uvac known for Griffon Vultures will bring back other birds of prey that due to human activities disappeared from the region, such as the Eurasian Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus) and Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus) amongst others.

For more information please contact:

Maja Radosavljevic, Public Relations
Zavod za Zastitu Prirode Srbije / Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia

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