The LIFE Lanner project is the second LIFE project BirdLife Malta is participating in as a project partner internationally. Through its actions in Malta, BirdLife Malta will be lending its expertise in the field of raptor identification and monitoring to Italian project staff, ensuring Malta keeps up the fight against the illegal persecution of raptors such as Lanner Falcons which may stray to Malta from this reintroduction project.
BirdLife Malta shall also be assisting this Italian project with DNA profiling of Lanner Falcon specimens held in Malta such as to help characterise the full potential of reintroducing specimens in the wild in central Italy. This exciting project should see the return of this majestic species back to an area from where it has disappeared and where it faces several challenges to its re-establishment.
The project and its objectives
The LIFE Lanner project aims at increasing the small population of Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus feldeggii) in the Lazio region of Italy, preventing its disappearance and promoting the conditions for dispersion of individuals. The conservation actions are consistent with the interventions foreseen in the Italian Action Plan for the Lanner Falcon. In addition, the project aims at transferring skills and methodologies to Malta, where it was historically present.
The main objectives of the project are:
- use of appropriate captive breeding and hacking techniques to release, over a few years, a large number of young Lanner falcons into the wild, whose movements will be monitored using GPS technology. Several reports indicate that the falcon is very sensitive to noise from human activities (e.g. agriculture). LIFE Lanner will release young birds even in environments where human presence is constant, to make them less sensitive to indirect human disturbance;
- adapting electricity power lines near nesting sites to make them safer;
- genetic mapping of the individuals present in Italy and Malta in museums, zoos, breeding and recovery centres. In particular, Malta represents a crucial monitoring point for a possible genetic exchange between Falco biarmicus feldeggii and the North African subspecies Falco biarmicus erlangeri. For this reason, it is necessary to improve the operational standards of the recovery centre so as to be able to collect all Lanner Falcon data;
- increasing potential nesting sites in areas poorly disturbed by the Peregrine Falcon and safeguarding open areas with cleaning and reopening to increase feeding areas for the Lanner Falcon;
- monitoring and protection of nesting pairs from poachers. Today this problem is present only for the Lanner Falcon in Sicily, but the Provincial Police of Viterbo and the Guardiparco will monitor this problem.
The project implements the objectives of the EU Birds Directive, and international conventions and action plans covering this species.