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Lesser White-fronted Goose: first test in Europe

Paola und Christian Moullec in their microlight aircraft
Foto: Christian Moullec

The proof of use of such methods in Europe was done by an experiment in 1999. French bird conservationists Paola and Christian Moullec together with their team helped 30 young Lesser White-fronted Geese to migrate from their breeding areas in Sweden via Denmark to the Lower Rhine area in Germany by guiding them with a microlight aircraft. Never before such a project had been attempted in Europe due to strict air traffic regulations, high air traffic density and last but not least high human population density. Because of these obstacles, which seemed to be too tough to overcome, the options to realise such a project safe and successfully were rated to be unrealistic.


The group of Christian Moullec with young Lesser White-front
Foto: Christian Moullec

Paola and Christian Moullec could gain the co-operation of scientists, nature protection authorities and organizations as well as of air traffic regulation authorities. They were supported by the late Dr. Lambart von Essen, manager of the Swedish Lesser White-fronted Goose project, Dr. Johan Mooij from Biologische Station im Kreis Wesel and Dr. Wolfgang Scholze, technical officer environment of the German Aero Club (DAeC). All necessary permissions were given and allowed the geese and microlight aircraft migrating about 2000 km safely from Öster Malma in middle Sweden to their destination on the Bislicher Insel, a core nature reserve of the SPA ”Lower Rhine area” in Germany. After their first winter at the Lower Rhine, the young Lesser White-fronts started heading back to Sweden at the beginning of 2000 – this time without microlight guidance. In early summer it became clear: More than half of the birds arrived back in Öster Malma. More animals have been seen in the surrounding areas. With a documented return quota of at least 50 per cent, this pilot project has shown to be very successful.

Link to photo gallery


Christian Moullec´s book

Christian Moullec: Mit den wilden Gänsen fliegen. Kosmos Verlag - September 2001

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