Our interest and devotion to the protection of the White Stork and its habitat has lead to the start of the educational project ‘Storks without Borders’ by Natuurreservaten vzw, animal park Planckendael and the Ministry of the Flemish Government, Aminal. Using the stork as a flagship species we would like to inform a broad public about key aspects of the protection of nature such as threats, nature management, international cooperation and sustainable nature development. More knowledge will hopefully lead to more insight, apprehension and devotion. If we want the stork to return to Flanders as a breeding bird we have to work hard –after the successful re-introduction- to preserve, restore and develop potential breeding habitat. The communication to a broad public is an important point in this process.
In 1999 and 2000 we equipped respectively 9 and 6 different White Storks with a transmitter of 35 g constructed by Microwave Telemetry. In 2001 we tagged 3 more with North Star transmitters.
During the years we replaced a few tags, in total 24 individual White Storks could be tracked. We compile the satellite tracking data from ARGOS and distribute this information through the media (weather report on VRT, newspapers, magazines) and this website.
These satellite tracking data give us a detailed picture of the migration route, stopover sites and potential bottleneck areas and threats. We could only buy these transmitters and pay for the satellite time thanks the generous financial and logistic support of the Ministry of the Flemish Government, animal park Planckendael and Vogelwarte Radolfzell (Germany)(Forschungsstelle für Ornithologie der MPG – Max Planck Gezellschaft).
The Ministry of the Flemish Government kindly gave us the possibility to use this weblocation for the dissemination of information on this project and the data on the location of tagged storks. During the year 2000, more than 100.000 visits were registered on the site.
Responsable for the website information is Wim Van den Bossche from Natuurpunt (BirdLife Belgium) (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The growing number of breeding pairs in the countries surrounding Flanders inspired Natuurpunt vzw to install nesting platforms in potential breeding areas in floodplains and grassland areas in Flanders. In most cases the platform is the final support that the storks need to colonise a potential nesting habitat.
This small exhibition can be used for expositions in Flanders.
Since 1985, all young storks that hatched in animal park Planckendael are ringed with metal and colour rings. We obtained recoveries of these storks from western Europe till the southern point of Spain. We intend to ring young birds from new nests in Flanders as well. All young of free breeding pairs and the Zwin are ringed since 2000.
In 2000 we developed an educational package for 12 to 14 year old pupils in close co-operation with Flemish schools (K.T.A. Tienen, B.I.M. Mechelen, …). The package is a rich illustrated ‘news game’ where the pupil identifies himself with one of the tagged storks from 1999 and gets background information on topic related to storks.
The exhibition ‘surprising Africa’ in animal park Planckendael – Mechelen is constructed with typical housing constructions from African countries along the migration route of the stork.
The project ‘Storks without Borders’ is coordinated by Wim Van den Bossche from Natuurpunt vzw (BirdLife Belgium). Kris Struyf from Nature centre "The Zwin", Marleen Huyghe of animal park Planckendael and Nico Verwimp of Ministry of the Flemish Governement, are the partners contact persons.
The project is only possible thanks to the support of the management of Natuurpunt vzw, the Koninklijke Maatschappij voor Dierkunde van Antwerpen and the Ministry of the Flemish government, Agentschap voor Natuur en Bos & MMIS.
The project is a result of the continuous effort and enthusiasm of many co-workers of animal park Planckendael and Natuurpunt vzw. We are very grateful for the logistic support of Vogelwarte Radolfzell in Germany. We would also like to thank the large number of people and organisations who contributed to the success of the project ‘Storks without Borders’.
We would like to thank all people involved in the website of the project : Dick Van Straaten, Tom Van Gulck, Luc Scholtis (Mmis), Nico Verwimp and Jeroen Schols (ANB), Hugo Vanderwegen (Aminal), Silva Goyvaerts, Dirk Van den Bossche, Hendrik De Backer and GIM ; all families, schools and companies who reacted on our search for potential nesting sites, the electricity company Electrabel who delivered poles for the nesting platforms ; the satellite tracking company ARGOS in Toulouse (France) ; the Belgian ‘Nationaal Geografisch Instituut’ for providing maps ; the sponsors of the expedition in 2000 : A.S.Adventure, Ford, VAB, Sony, De Putter, All Sign Systems, Koninklijke Unie van Belgische.Zendamateurs and our foreign colleagues.