Gladiators strike a blow for wild birds
To mark the beginning of the FAO's conference on wild birds and avian influenza in Rome earlier this week, members of the Italian Society for the Protection of Birds (LIPU, BirdLife in Italy) expressed their support for wild birds and highlighted the poultry trade’s role in the spread of H5N1.
This message was highlighted at an event organised by LIPU near Rome's famous Colosseum on 30 May. Two gladiators from a local historical society (the Gruppo Storico Romano) joined around twenty LIPU volunteers in helping to symbolise the battle against H5N1.
The 'flu fighters' also reminded the press gathered at the event of Rome's early history - the "Eternal City" was founded by Romulus who was supposedly guided to its site by the flight of a flock of migratory birds.
"It is unfair and dangerous to use wild birds as convenient scapegoats for the spread of H5N1" —Elena d’Andrea, CEO of LIPU
"It is unfair and dangerous to use wild birds as convenient scapegoats for the spread of H5N1, when the real problems lie with the intensive rearing of poultry and the massive international trade in poultry products," commented Elena d’Andrea, CEO of LIPU.
"Wild birds play a major role in the functioning of the global ecosystems and are a source of inspiration to people across the planet. The mass hysteria generated by the avian influenza scare is damaging our relationship with them: people are even destroying Swallows’ nests out of an irrational fear of these messengers of spring," she added.