As we left the airport and headed to the shores of Cagliari the sun began to set behind the mountains, luckily we had time to capture this beautiful sight as the water reflected the colours of the fading light.
In no time at all we drove away from the city and headed south to the Sulics, where wonderful committed people were met, and a fabulously wild Mediterranean forest was crossed.
In which, also, the deep culturally rooted problem of animal poaching was investigated, and its universe of dense political and economical reasons to exist was discovered.
May we say it ourselves, the problem is bigger and darker than we thought. May the Blackbird, the Robin, and the Sardinian Deer, whoso photos feature briefly below, represent the reality of what indiscriminate poaching of these animals can do: slow and painful deaths, often of unwanted animals left to rot in the same traps they died in and never collected, just so that a few selected grams of meat can go and feed the mouths of the rich and heartless few who can afford paying £80 and more for a few boiled birds.
A lot can and should be said about this, which doesn't only involve Sardinia, nor just Italy, but virtually every Mediterranean country. Hopefully the film we will make in the next few months will manage to concisely tell the story of the long fight against bird and ungulate poaching in Sardinia, but for a larger and broader look at the problem, we fully recommend the wonderful essay "Emptying the Skies" by American writer Jonathan Franzer. Here
Capoterra, the heart of poaching in Sardinia. The sign says it all.
Meet the team. This tireless bunch woke up every day before dawn, walked 10Km and more uphill, removed thousands of traps, and even tolerated us filming them, all with a smile on their faces.
Day one, introducing The Forest. A stunning 68900 hectars of Mediterranean forest, covered in Holly Oak, Arbutus, Cork Oaks, Prickly juniper, Christmas Holly, Montpellier Maple, Myrtus and many more we don't even know the names of.
One armed and very new trap for ungulates. With this type of trap poachers hope to capture boar, which they can sell in the black market for about 10 euros a Kg, but unfortunately more often than not Sardinian deer get trapped in them. This is a protected species which was on the brink of extinction just a couple of decades ago.
When a trap is found, the wire is removed and folded away by the volunteers.
A few of the wires for ungulate traps found after a mornings work in the forest.
A beautiful adult male, at least 4 years old, trapped in the leg. Needless to say, this male suffered a long and painful death. What's even more absurd is the fact that the carcass is unwanted and the poacher will not remove it: there is no market for deer meat and the risk of being caught with it (being a highly protected species) is too high. This deer will become food for the scavengers of the forest.
Screenshot from video, just to be reminded of the beauty and grace of these creatures.
Nora beach, the start of another day.
An example of the beautiful Linchens which thrived within the forest
Elisa, the youngest of the volunteers, and one of the very few at the camp who is from Sardinia, in the process of removing an aerial trap for birds.
The team celebrate removing the 100th trap of the day.
The President of Lipu, looking over a mountainside covered in traps
An unfortunate blackbird, fallen prey to an aerial trap. Blackbirds, together with Thrushes, are the birds that poachers are after because they make up the "griva", the traditional food still eaten by a few in Sardinia at Christmas.
Freeing a dead Robin from a ground trap he unfortunately fell into.
We will keep you posted about editing of the film.
Nick, Oropendola Productions