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Sixteen storks in Africa

Miroslav Bobek  Sunday, October 30, 2005, 13:50
Black stork on its wintering ground in Ethiopia, south from Lake Tana. January 1997. - Autor:Gérard Jadoul
Black stork on its wintering ground in Ethiopia, south from Lake Tana. January 1997.
Autor:   Gérard Jadoul  

During the last two weeks two more storks have reached their wintering grounds and one has left Europe. Estonian stork Tooni reached Ethiopia and has been staying north of Lake Tana since 20th October. Hungarian female stork Margit has reached Ethiopia as well and is currently staying to the east from Lake Tana. It cannot be ruled out that she will continue her journey. Now what is most interesting - Belgian black stork Anne left southern Spain on 20th October and is roaming around awkwardly in the Sahara. In Europe, only two storks are left in the Spanish National Park Doňana (and we will see if they winter there or if they fly to Africa) while 16 storks with "backpacks" are in Africa. 

Of course the flight of the three mentioned storks was not the only event taking place during the course of the last two weeks when I evaluated satellite date on a daily basis but did not get down to write anything about it. For example Lou started flying eastwards on 17th or 18th October and shifted from Mali to Burkina Faso. Later he returned a little to the north but still is in Burkina Faso. We noticed significant movements of Eliska and Jaak on their wintering grounds.

Now shortly to the theme that is related to the photograph. Altogether we have four storks in Ethiopia at the moment, more specifically in a not too large are surrounding Lake Tana. In this area a female black stork Zuzana wintered and we visited her in 1997. We found her transmitter in one hut in a local settlement. The youngsters name was Liew and he threw a stone on her - and killed her. A few days later we retrieved more bird rings of other storks which were victims of local vandals. Ethiopians though cannot consume storks or most of other animals living in nature because their religion forbids them to.

In the area where Zuzana died we found a few other storks (one of them is on the photograph). Only their observation revealed to us how people like Liew could kill Zuzana. The escape zone for the storks was relatively small, much smaller than in Europe. In a very densely populated area they would never have had a chance to get close to some water body which is the source of food. Although there is a smaller escape zone the time that they could spend hunting was relatively short...


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