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From Endangered to Exemplary: Germany's Red Kites Triumph in Conservation

Cast your gaze upward amidst Germany's pastoral landscapes, and your gaze may catch sight of a medium-sized raptor with a deeply forked tail gracefully soaring and displaying aerial acrobatics. What you are likely witnessing is a Red Kite (Milvus milvus). Its story embodies a triumph in conservation—a tale that not only deserves to be shared but also stands as a blueprint for future environmental endeavors.


Not always did the kites grace our skies. In the 1980s, due to habitat loss, poisoning, electrocution, and changes in agricultural practices, the Red Kite was on the brink of extinction. This alarmed nature lovers and environmentalists, who took upon themselves to coordinate an action plan that included numerous organisations such as the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), NABU, as well as regional and local nature groups. Initiatives to address the threats to the Red Kite and to support the recovery of its populations began in the late 1980s and continue to this day. The spectacle of Red Kites soaring across our skies today stands as a testament to the success achieved through this meticulously coordinated, multi-faceted approach.


The Plan

To guarantee the project's success, a comprehensive array of measures had to be devised and executed simultaneously. These encompassed:


  • Habitat Protection and Restoration: Protected areas and nature reserves were designated and restored to enhance nesting and foraging habitats.

  • Anti-Poisoning Measures: Legal measures were introduced to strengthen legislation against illicit poisoning, alongside stringent enforcement protocols and the imposition of severe penalties.

  • Community Involvement: The project groups actively involved regional and local communities in monitoring and reporting Red Kite sightings, nests, and potential threats. Additionally, these communities participated in active habitat management.

  • Power lines modification: Recognizing that power lines were a major risk for the Kites, new bird-friendly designs were developed and implemented.

  • ·Collaboration with Farmers: Recognizing the frequent presence of kites over farmlands, significant efforts were made to engage farmers and help them implement agri-environmental schemes aimed at fostering sustainable farming practices and preserving suitable habitats conductive to the well-being of the Kites.

  • International Cooperation: It was imperative to establish collaboration with international conservation organisations, ensuring a coordinated approach to Red Kite conservation across borders.


Red Kite Project: Results

The Red Kite conservation project in Germany stands as a remarkable success story, with the species experiencing a notable recovery. Recent estimates indicate a population of 14,000 to 16,000 breeding pairs in Germany, a stark contrast to the mere 50 pairs recorded in the 1980s. Thanks to these efforts, the species is no longer in danger.


The tale of the Red Kite underscores the transformative power of determination, strategic thinking, planning, and effective management in shaping our environment for the better. These invaluable lessons should serve as guiding principles as we address the multitude of of pressing environmental issues that necessitate our prompt intervention..



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