Clara has been shot and killed in western Sicily during the migration to Africa

Clara, the young Egyptian vulture released in the Murgia Materana Natural Park in August 2018, has been shot and killed in the area around Mazara del Vallo (province of Trapani), in south-west Sicily. Her body, containing 7 shotgun pellets, was discovered on the 11th of September.

Clara’s body, as found by the Carabinieri of the Sicilian branch of the CITES Service, guided by Enzo Sciabica and Antonino Barbera.

Sadly, Clara’s journey towards Africa, which started when she left the Murgia Materana on the 3rd of September, was brought to an abrupt and tragic end by a shot fired by an uncivilised, ignoble criminal.

Late on the afternoon of the 9th of September, the signal from Clara’s GPS/GSM datalogger began indicated a more or less constant position approximately 10 km to the north-west of Mazara del Vallo (province of Trapani). Alerted by the staff at CERM, local ornithologists Enzo Sciabica and Antonino Barbera immediately began looking for her, continuing their searches until the evening of the 10th of September, but without success. The following day, Clara’s body was discovered in a vineyard by a group of Carabinieri from Sicilian branch of the CITES Service, who were guided by the two ornithologists and mobilised by the CITES Command of the Carabinieri in Rome following in response to a request from CERM. X-rays carried out by the Institute of Experimental Veterinary Medicine in Sicily indicated the presence of seven lead pellets in the young Egyptian vulture’s body.

Clara’s lifeless body

Unfortunately, the devastating effects of poachers on migratory birds is well-documented in this part of Sicily: Clara’s fate, and the confirmation of the cause of her death, which was made possible by the GPS/GSM datalogger used to monitor her movements, sadly represent just the tip of an iceberg that most probably hides the death of hundreds of birds o prey every year.

Clara’s journey

This barbarous act fills one with a sense of anger and sadness: The rifle shot that brought Clara down, condemning her to a slow and agonising death over a period of two days, also nullified all the time and effort that resulted in her birth in captivity, to say nothing of the organisation behind the operation to release her into the wild. What’s more, this pointless gesture also damages the chances of survival of the Egyptian vulture in Italy, since Clara will no longer be able to reproduce and contribute to the perpetuation of her species.

A true national disgrace.

Clara’s body showing the presence of shotgun pellets and various fractures

Life Egyptian Vulture