Saturday, November 01, 2008

Croatia Online - Falconry Centre, Dubrava

So many stories to tell and not enough time to tell them! Croatia Online's small editorial team is suffering from a surfeit of news and a serious time deficit. Whilst we will be catching up on the last month's news in due course, we couldn't leave last night's story untold for long.
We've reported on the the work of the falconry ("sokolarski") centre in Dubrava, near Šibenik, in a previous posting - see However last night's story is more an illustration of how a small and inspired conservation organisation, in a tiny village, in a small country, can make world news.
Some months ago an injured eagle owl was brought to the centre with its wings badly damaged. Under carefully measured anaesthetic, the team matched the 30 damaged feathers with those in its feather bank and, in a process known as imping, linked these new feathers to the shafts of the damaged feathers, with pins and rods. After a rest and a full inspection the owl was released swiftly back into the wild at the precise spot where it was found (recorded on GPS), and before another bird took over its territory. Just as remarkably, the whole process, including the flight back to the wild, was filmed by Hrvoje Gunjace, a journalist for Croatian television. He documented the imping and the release, and it was picked up by CNN World Report who broadcast it around the world, shining the spotlight on both the unique work of the Sokolarski Centre, and a very happy ending for the owl in question.
We saw the CNN film clip at a presentation in the new and very modern Šibenik Library, yesterday evening, and understand that the original Croatian reporter is to receive an award for his work. That award is very well deserved, as is the increased exposure that the documentary has given to the very enterprising and noble work carried out at the centre.
Emilio Mendjušić, the centre's founder and continuing inspiration (pictured left) doesn't stand still for very long and is now in the process of extending the veterinary facilities to include a veterinary centre catering for all animals. This will help contribute funds to the centre and help the two resident vets (Emil pictured right) earn a living whilst they continue to provide honorary services to the centre and the injured wild birds of prey that are brought there. Victoria Norman (pictured centre) is a doyenne of falconry and came from England two years ago to volunteer for the centre. All three were intensly involved in all stages of the rescue and "repair" of the owl which is just one of the many aspects of their work at the centre.
Even happier news for the celebrity owl is that after two years, his "imped" feathers will moult and be replaced by brand new ones without the pins and rods!
PS - If you want to see the video, we've just found it on YouTube - follow this link: Victoria Norman was most excited about the fact that the whole operation was done under carefully measured anaesthetic - the first time in her experience that it's not been done on a bird that's awake. Although there's no pain involved it is very stressful for the bird and especially one that needs 30 new feathers.


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