Raptor shooting survey

Not only birdwatchers are keen on autumn raptor migration, the region around Batumi is also notorious for its raptor shooters. Although it is illegal in Georgia to shoot raptors, many get shot when passing the bottleneck.

A mixed team of Georgian and international volunteers are conducting a survey of the shooting and trapping of raptors in the Batumi bottleneck, from August 15 to September 30. This work is important to evaluate our conservation outcomes, and is funded  by the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. It's a follow-up on previous research into this topic. The Master’s thesis work of Johannes Jansen is the most recent, a summary of which can be found here.

The aim of the study is to quantify the pressure of illegal killing in the region on populations of migratory raptors, and to set up a standardized monitoring scheme to be carried out in the next years. In addition, further attention is devoted to documenting the drivers of this illegal killing. BRC has established a non-confrontational approach to reduce this killing. The results of this study will be used to evaluate and optimize our approach to the conservation of migratory birds, based on public involvement, education and ecotourism. The data will also be used to contribute to BirdLife's illegal killing of birds program.

The survey team reports: "The first month of the hunting season has almost passed, and we are in the field observing the hunting pressure and talking with hunters every day.  We are interviewing at least one hunter in every village that looks suitable for hunting along the entire coastal zone of Ajara. Most of the hunters are very friendly and willing to answer our questions that are directed to their personal background, demography of the village, number of local hunters, their hunting habits and motivation. On cloudy, rainy days when birds fly very low making an easy target, we spend the day in those villages that were identified as "hunting hotspots" with the help of these interviews, and collect data on the intensity of shooting, and the birds killed or injured. We believe that our efforts will lead to a better estimation on the extent of raptor killing and the number of active hunters in Ajara, and to a better understanding of this practice and the drivers behind."