NORTH CASPIAN OPENS UNIQUE CENTER FOR RESCUING BIRDS FROM OIL SPILLS
The event was part of the round table called Specially Protected Natural
Areas and Business: Collaboration to Save Biodiversity initiated by
Roszapovedtsentr and WWF-Russia and supported by the Astrakhan Nature Reserve
and Caspian Fisheries Research Institute.
This is the first time a Russian company, the Nizhnevolzhsk Lukoil company, in partnership with the Administration of the southern PAs of Astrakhan Region, has created a rehabilitation center for animals affected by oil spills. WWF experts who attended the event say that the project has been implemented to the highest international conservation standards.
The center pays special attention to the rescue and rehabilitation of birds as they suffer from oil spills the most. The center has the latest equipment: bird deterrents (to prevent the birds from landing on polluted areas, they are scared away by the sound of gas guns), cleaning reservoirs, a warming zone. They also have special aviaries where birds are placed before they are released into nature. The center also has portable equipment that can be quickly transported even to the remote islands of the North Caspian.
The center can currently rehabilitate 100–200 birds per day and is planning to grow the capacity in the future. Whenever necessary, the birds will be rescued by trained volunteers under the guidance of the Administration of the PA, the experienced ornithologists, and veterinary physicians. The specialists have already trained over 100 volunteers.
"Having this center makes a big contribution to the way we respond to oil spills," said Aleksey Knizhnikov, Head of the Program for the Business Environmental Responsibility at WWF Russia. "We are happy that large businesses are willing to help us and understand the importance of supporting PAs and conserving rare species of animals. The first time we suggested that companies create such centers was in 2014, and the Fund prepared a list of Recommendations for that. Back then, we also included the corresponding criteria into the ranking of transparency of oil and gas companies that we publish annually. Today, we can see amazing results which will undoubtedly help conserve the nature and contribute to the national Ecology project".
The main subject of the meeting was to organize the cooperation between PAs, government authorities, and businesses of the region with the aim to preserve the biodiversity in the Lower Volga region and the Northwestern Caspian. One of the priority species of the area is saiga. In the last 40 years, the population of saiga around the Caspian Sea has been drastically reduced by over 100 times. That's why it is important that all the interested parties join their efforts to save the species.
"Only two PAs still have saiga today: the Stepnoy nature reserve in Astrakhan Region and the Chornyye Zemli Nature Reserve in Kalmykia. This is essentially one ecosystem, and saiga represents its poor condition. At the round table today, WWF Russia spoke with local authorities and businesses and stressed the importance of saving the species and their habitats. The Fund and leading Russian experts developed a set of specific recommendations that we will provide to the participants," said Valeriy Shmunk, Head of the Russian Caucasus Regional Office at WWF-Russia.
Saving saiga population is an important goal for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Last year, WWF Russia helped clean three artesian wells in the Stepnoy nature reserve in Astrakhan Region. WWF is also planning to take protection measures in the Chornyye Zemli Nature Reserve, another habitat of saiga.
Photo in the caption: (с) Vyacheslav Moroz / WWF-Russia
Photo in the announcement: (c) Aleksey Knizhnikov/WWF Russia