After graduating from the University of West Hungary in 2012, having my BSc diploma in hand, I had a dream: to combine the three most important and motivating parts of my life. These were, and still are, my love for Russian language, my passion for birds of prey, and my deep desire to achieve something useful combining these two. Not much later I was forwarded an email about an organization named Batumi Raptor Count calling for volunteers in the Republic of Georgia for a 6-month period. I immediately applied and soon I was on a plane flying to the Caucasus, and moved in a little village in the middle of a raptor highway. Since then, conservation of birds of prey became an integral part of my life to what I devote much of my professional and free time.
I first encountered the practice of mass shooting of migratory birds in Georgia in autumn 2012, and it deeply shocked me. As a hunter myself, it was not the blood that was upsetting, but the hunters’ apparent nonchalance regarding legislation and hunting ethics as I perceived. All the species they were shooting were rare sights in my country, and were under strict protection in Europe and in Georgia as well.
Motivated by this experience, in 2013 I spent four months in the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary as a conservation science intern in order to learn more about the protection of birds of prey. In 2015 I wrote my Master’s thesis about mapping the conflict of raptor conservation and recreational shooting (Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy, Central European University, Hungary) as a hoped step towards conflict resolution.
Now I have a dream of a shooting-free future for birds of prey passing in the Batumi Bottleneck, and I strongly believe that our work at Batumi Raptor Count is leading to a gradual change in hunters’ attitudes towards raptors in a non-confrontational manner.