Intentional oil spill in the Po Delta
Hundreds of thousands of litres of oil are floating on the water of the Po river and are starting to enter the Po Delta, one of the most important European wetlands. The Po delta is classified as an Important Bird Area (IBA), as it is a key site for wintering waterbirds and for colony-breeding waterbirds. Important Bird Areas (IBAs) form a worldwide network of sites for the conservation of birds.
When complete, this global network is likely to comprise around 15,000 IBAs covering some 10 million km2 (c.7% of the world’s land surface) identified on the basis of about 40% of the world’s bird species. The effective conservation of these sites will contribute substantially to the protection of the world's biological diversity.
LIPU (BirdLife in Italy) is seriously concerned that this spill could affect the wintering species which are still in the area, such as Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, Mallard Anas platyrhynchos and Arctic Loon Gavia arctica. Other migratory birds such as Garganey Anas querquedula also use the delta.
"The risks are very high for the species who spend most of the time in water, such as ducks, cormorants, gulls and loons, or for the ones who are nesting, like herons”, explains Marco Gustin, Conservation Officer at LIPU.
LIPU has activated a task force and is coordinating the work of several recovery centres in the affected area, with the support of LPO (BirdLife in France). Nine cormorants have already died despite the treatment received in one of the recovery centres and more oiled birds are expected in the coming days.
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Credits: LIPU (BirdLife in Italy)