After 400 years of extinction, Northern Bald Ibises are flying high again. A dedicated group of individuals at Waldrapp Team successfully helped foster a small population of the birds back into the skies.
Over the last ten years, Johannes Fritz and his team in Austria have been caring for groups of ibise hatchlings as their human “parents.” The project”s goal is to guide the rare birds back to the migration pattern they would have ordinarily learned through the generations of evolution.
To do so, they fly right along with them in these aircrafts on the slow journey. Their latest trip took 11 days.
The arduous trek takes the birds across from where they hatched in Saxony, Austria over the Alps and into Tuscany, Italy.
Fritz explains, “That the birds under these difficult conditions followed the aircraft at all is certainly down to the extremely close relationship with their two foster parents.”
Previously, the project has met with issues of human contact, especially poachers. But with their newest flight path, it”s been smooth sailing.
This video shows the unmistakable connection and dedication between the birds and their human parents.
(via The Dodo.)
This month, 14 ibises made the trip and joined with others who have grown independent since being shown the migration. Fritz hopes to continue and create a viable population reaching around 120 of the birds by 2019.