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2003 - No. 1

Other issues:
Tämä numero suomeksi /This issue in Finnish

In this issue:


Editor's note: News!

Lauri Kahanpää

The main articles in this Bulletin contain three News:

1) The population of Lesser White-fronted Geese created in Sweden by Dr. Lambart von Essen and his followers is thriving. The excellent reproduction results in 2002 as well as the 20 per cent rise of LWfG numbers in the Netherlands prove this. (Stories by Åke Andersson and Bertus de Lange)

2) Since the publication of the gene test results, our project has found increasing international acceptance and appreciation. (Stories on Casarca / RGG, and the Conference Goose 2002 )

3) The German LWfG Project is going to start relesing LWfG goslings in Finland or in Sweden next summer. They will use ultra light aircraft as guiding "foster parents". We ourselves prepare for a start with Barnacle Goose step-mothers. (Story by Peter Kredatus and Wolfgang Scholze)

These articles speak for themselves. I have nothing to add. Anyway, read the other stories, too.


Lesser White-fronts in Northern Europe


Norwegian Numbers

Reported by Åke Andersson

The Norwegian LWfG had an excellent breeding summer. At Valdak / Porsangerfjord ten clutches with a total of 69 birds (35 ad., 34 juv .) were seen.



Report of the Swedish LWfG re-introduction project 2002

Åke Andersson, abbreviated and translated by Lauri Kahanpää

Breeding LWfG at Öster-Malma

We had two breeding pairs and a couple of eggs in the incubator. The number of juv (fl.) birds finally stayed at 4. No maximal production was aimed at, since by the beginning of the breeding season the suitability of our geese for re-introduction still was unclear. As there have been no releases for several years, the farm also is full. For this reason, the fenced area war enlargened, and some geese were kept in the breeding boxes.

During the year, three geese were transported to Nordens Ark, 22 died, and 18 were classified as Greater White-front hybrids and killed. 85 remain.

Summer 2002 at ÖLster-Malma .
Foto Lauri Kahanpää

Population monitoring

The LWfG population wintering in Holland is estimated to 80 exx. Of these, 30 have been observed to carry our colour rings. Some LWfG have also been observed in south Sweden in winter. In spring, 15 Lessers were observed in a new place called Valjeviken in Blekinge, and 18 on Lillfjärden. Near Hudiksvallin 32 different individuals were identified.

The core breeding area was controlled 3 times between June 8 and June 25. Ten individuals were identified by their colour rings, and 15 unringed LWfG were observed simultaneously. There were at least 30 adults in the core area. Comparison with data from earlier years suggested an estimated 5 breedings, but in fall, at least 8 clutches were observed. It seems, the LWfG has spread outside the core area. In fact, one family was reported from 30 km away. An all time high number of 21 juv was counted. (15 in 2001). The good result was ewven more surprising, since there were unusually plenty of red fox and other predators. On an island, where an LWfG nest was destroyed, a mink had been seen.

On autumn migration, 61 were counted in Hudiksvall, at best 13 on Hjälstaviken, and 34 on the Medelpadi place. By mid September, there were at leas 80 LWfG in central Sweden.

Gene tests

The blood samples have been analyzed during the year and a preliminary report is available. For the final decision on suitability of our captive birds for re-introduction, complementary information is missing. The DNA tests are being done at the universities of Uppsala (Håkan Tegelström) and Oulu, Finland (Minna Ruokonen).

International co-operation and media visibility

Bo Fagerström represented Projekt Fjällgås at Wewtlands International's meeting GOOSE 2002 in Spain in November. Wetlands' LWfG Task Force has during the years emphasized measures to protect habitats and reduce hunting pressure on teh migration routes in the East. Despite of this, the Swedish Project with gene tests has a high priority (category 2).

In august, a Scandinavian meting was organized on the future of the LWfG. During the year, contacts have been held up to collagues in other Scandinavian countries. Lauri Kahanpää from the Friends of the Lesser White-fronted Goose (Finland) visited Öster-Malma in spring. The German-French team Aktion Zwerggans is still planning to use ultra-light aircraftr as guides for LWfG on migration. A film on this was broadcast on Swedish on TV, and as a commentary,we had the opportunity to present our Project.

In memoriam Anders Bylin

The Project was struck by a great loss during 2002. Anders Bylin left this world having suffered of a serious disease. Working at Tovetorp Biological Station, Anders lived close to Öster-Malma, and he was one of the most important persons for the breeding Project. He also organized the monitoring activities, a responsibility now taken over by Bo Fagerström. We have lost a good friend and an excellent ornithologist and conservationist.


Fifteen years of breeding LWfG in Finland

Pentti Alho and Lauri Kahanpää

The last Finnish LWfG was shot in Carelia in 1995. Extinction did not come as a surprise - the same thing had happened in Sweden earlier. In fact counter-measures were on their way in both coutries. In Finland they failed. Now - eight years later - there is hope again. How come?

The main threat

The LWfG is globally in danger (VU). Of the original population 10-20 per cent (= 8 500 - 17 000 exx) survive today, and the breeding range has shrunk enormously. Almost all LWfG migrate to poorly known areas in Asia. There are ecological problems on the wintering grounds, but the main reason for population decline is hunting. Reducing hunting pressure fast is absolutely necessary.

Breeding LWfG in Finland

On a WWF initiative, breeding LWfG was begun in 1986 by importing 2 pairs from Sweden to a farm on the island of Hailuoto (=Karlsö). Already the same year, the first 5 goslings were born, the next year more. Releases were carried out since in 1989 and our second LWfG farm was built in Hämeenkoski (=Koski). Unfortunately, bird tuberculosis struck the Hailuoto farm, which was closed in spite of a successful desinfection program in 1998. Our own farm got their first birds from Hailuoto, but later on a lot more were imported directly from Belgium, Denmark, Germany and Sweden. These are healthily multiplying today.

Fig.1: Imports of LWfG to Hailuoto (red) and Hämeenkoski (green)
Fig.2: Juvenils (fl.) produced at Hailuoto (red) and Hämeenkoski (green)

Re-introduction without surrogate parents

During 1989 - 1977 a total of 147 LWfG were set free in Finnish Lapland. This experiment failed. But a simultaneous Swedish project succeeded (Cf. story by Alho and Kellomäki in issue 2002 - No 1). Therefore, both future introduction programmes, the Finnsish, and the German one, will essentially use the Swedish method . The Friends of the Lesser white-fronted Goose focus on using Barnacle Goose step-parents, while the German Aktion Zwerggans intends to use the ultra- light aircraft method developed and tested by William Lishman in Canada and Christian and Paola Moullec in Sweden. (Cf. story by Peter Kredatus ja Wolfgang Scholze.)

Fig.3: Releases of pull. and juv. (red) and adults (green)

Fig. 4: Observed breedings of LWfG released in Finland


Genetic trouble?

Since 1998, no LWfG have been set free in Finland. The long time-out was not just due to the poor results and sick birds. While searching for genetic differences between LWfG from different countries, Jaakko Lumme and Minna Ruokonen at Oulu university discovered that about 20 per cent of the farm birds on Hailuoto carried mitochondria mostly like those of White-fronted Geese (Anser albifrons), another species. As a result of all this trouble, WWF Finland interrupted the re-introduction programme, which is carried on by us today. Since then, all captive LWfG in Sweden, and a large sample in Finland have been genetically tested. Since mitochondrial DNA is inherited on a direct maternal line, also Chromosome DNA had to be studied. The results are presented in the article by Marina Kholodova in this issue of the "Friend".

What next?

According to IUCN guidelines, best available stock should be used for re-introduction, preferring remnants of a local poulation, if there is any. To preserve local genetic material, re-introduction measures should be started before total extinction. Enriching or possibly replacing the captive stock with Norwegian or Russian geese must be consicered seriously but seems very difficult. Fortunately, recent studies show, that we can rely on the available captive stock as an insurance against total extinction of the species.


News around the World


Wintering LWfG in the Netherlands

Bertus de Lange

Dear readers of the Bulletin, You might remember the good news in my previous report (No. 1/ 2002): On a March day, 42 Lesser White-fronts were observed simultaneously in the Netherlands. The Swedish population had once again proved healthy and had been multiplying without human interference - during the time out, as they say in Sweden.

For this winter, I expected an even better situation, since breeding in Svaipa was reported to have gone fine. And sure I was right! On September 29, the first LWfG for this winter were sighted: 16 ind , including 8 juveniles at Anjum/Friesland. Click here for a map

Two weeks later, on the same area, there were 20 ind, and two had already found their way south to Korendijkse Slikken /Zuid-Holland. By mid October, the Anjum flock had still grown: Our "Birdline" reported 36 ! Highest ever at this site. One week later Oct 24 2002: --- Anjum and Tibma / Friesland , 36 LWfG , among them at least 10 juv , in a 'single-species' flock! There was another report of 40 ind. at the same site last week! Among the numerous white-fronted and barnacle geese , there was also an adult red-breasted goose!

After some severe winter weather with a cold spell lasting two weeks -up to 34 individuals were observed at Oude Land van Strijen in the South, while another 8 stayed midways atr Petten. One unringed adult was seen at a new locality, Botshol / Utrecht.

The complicated waters in Zeeland contain many suitable places for the LWfG, so not all are detected. In January, there was some serching activity there, and LWfG were still around in (very) good numbers! Here are some recent dates and numbers (BL):

I will help to keep your observations page up to date during spring. When the flow of news from here ends for the season, you can start to count your birds yourselves up there in Scandinavia. Greetings to all Friends. BL


Aktion Zwerggans - Soon in Action

Peter Kredatus and Wolfgang Scholze

Anyone looking up into the sky in the autumn of 1999, anywhere between Öster Malma (Sweden) and Xanten on the Lower Rhine in Germany, can hardly have believed their eyes. A flock of 30 Lesser White-fronted Geese were flying overhead, in a typical V formation, following a microlight aircraft. The French environmentalists Paola and Christian Moullec had bred the Lesser White-fronts and trained the birds to bond with them and their microlight aircraft.

Is this DENMARK? 1999. © Christian Moullec

The first experiments in Canada

In the autumn of 1993 the Canadian amateur ornithologist William Lishman launched an eye-catching project. He got a flock of Canada Geese to bond with him and his microlight aircraft, and was able to guide them from their breeding grounds to winter quarters in the United States. The result was amazing. Almost all the geese found their own way back to the breeding grounds the following spring. Using this method it was possible in subsequent years to re-settle endangered Cranes and Trumpeter Swans in the United States. Lishman's flight with the Canada Geese supplied the model for the book, and the cinema film, "Amy and the Wild Geese".

Flying with LWfG

No forest in sight! © Christian Moullec

In the autumn of 1999 another remarkable experiment took place. For the first time in a densely-populated area of Europe, an attempt was made with the aid of a microlight to guide 30 young Lesser White-fronted Geese from their breeding grounds in Sweden, across Denmark to the Lower Rhine area of Germany. Paola and Christian Moullec had managed to gain the approval of scientists, environmental protection agencies and the air traffic authorities. They were advised and supported by Dr Lambart von Essen, leader of the Swedish Lesser White-fronted Goose project, Dr Johan Mooij of the Wesel biological research station, and Dr Wolfgang Scholze, Environmental Consultant to the Deutscher Aero Club. All the necessary permits were granted, and after flying nearly 2000 km, both the geese and the microlight arrived unscathed at their destination on Bislich Island.

A first success

After over-wintering on the Lower Rhine, the young Lesser White-fronts left for Sweden at the beginning of 2000, this time without any guidance from the microlight. In the early summer it was found that over half the birds had arrived back in Öster Malma. Further sightings were reported in the vicinity. With a proven return rate of over 50 percent, the project was judged a resounding success.

Living as parents to a flock of goslings

The Lesser White-fronted goose eggs come from hatcheries and are artificially incubated. Upon hatching, the chicks immediately glimpse their "adoptive parents". In order to ensure that the geese do not lose their vital fear of human beings, everyone who comes into contact with them has to wear capes and head coverings which disguise their outline. Experience from the 1999 project has shown that masks are also necessary to achieve a sufficient degree of alienation

The young geese have complete trust in their "parents", and follow them around. The bond becomes progressively stronger in the first few weeks. Left to themselves, they quickly panic. Acting the role of a parent to a clutch of goslings means staying with the young birds round the clock. It is only a good six months later, in the wintering grounds, that this bond will, in the course of natural development, become looser and eventually be dissolved.

Even as chicks, the young geese begin training with the microlight. To start with they run along behind the aircraft as it taxies, and try to keep up with it by flapping their tiny wings. As soon as they are able to fly, the first joint flights take place. During these flights the youngsters train their muscles for the long flight to their winter quarters. They also learn to recognise the landmarks of their breeding area.

To avoid pressure from hunting, migration routes, rest areas and wintering grounds have to be carefully chosen in areas where no shooting of geese takes place. For this reason the traditional migration routes have had to be abandoned. The new route follows the coasts of Sweden and Denmark, via the island of Fehmarn to Germany, and ends on the Lower Rhine on the border between Germany and The Netherlands.


On Bislich Island, one of the main wintering grounds for Arctic geese, the Lesser White-fronts spend the winter with thousands of (Greater) White-fronted Geese. In the spring they fly back northwards together, following the route they have learnt, to the place where they first flew a year earlier.

Media interest

To avoid any further disruption which might jeopardise the Moullecs' project, and also because neither the exact route to be taken nor the time of arrival could be determined in advance, the press were not invited to witness the first flight. Despite this, representatives of the press and broadcasters turned up at Bislich on the planned arrival date to observe the spectacle. Because of adverse weather conditions, the geese were three days late. This did not deter the excited journalists. They watched in fascination as the flock of geese arrived, led by the microlight - and almost forgot to take pictures.

The project was recorded by a joint French-Swedish film team. On the basis of this material, French television produced a documentary. The German channel ARD broadcast an edited version on 29 March 2001 in the series "Expeditionen ins Tierreich" (Expeditions to the Animal Kingdom). Announcements in the TV press and subsequent reaction from viewers showed widespread enthusiasm for the project and a spontaneous wave of support for the environmentalists.

The New Project:

Following the success of Paola and Christian Moullec's very promising experiment, the pilot project is now to be continued on a larger scale, in order to give the Lesser White-fronted Goose a realistic chance of survival. To achieve this, the charity "Aktion Zwerggans" (Operation Lesser White-front) was set up in July 2001 at the initiative of the Deutscher Aero Club. A first success was to obtain support for the project from the Allianz Umweltstiftung environmental foundation. Working together with scientists and dedicated specialists in the field of protecting endangered species, "Operation Lesser White-front" has set itself the task of raising about 100 Lesser White-fronted Geese every year for a period of several years, and guiding these birds, with the aid of microlight aircraft, to safe winter quarters on the Lower Rhine. The first such flight will take place in the autumn of 2003.




Casarca - the RGG Annual

(E:E.Syroechkovski. Sr., E.V.Rogacheva , and Lauri Kahanpää)

RGG stands for Rabotshnaja Gruppa po Guzeobraznyim Severnoi Evrazij. The English name is seldom used, although is has a nice symmetric abbreviation, GSDSG comes from Goose, Swan, and Duck Study Group of Nortern Eurasia. Call RGG as you like as long as you know, it is the same organization - founded in 1994 - that stood behind the great Moscow Goose conference in 2001, the first or the sixth of its kind, depending on how you count.

RGG has more than 400 members in 20 countries. The following RGG Conference will be held in Olonets on April 2003.

Venäjän sorsalintututkimuksen historiassa voidaan erottaa kolme vaihetta. Faunistisen datan keräilyyn ja uusien lajien löytämiseen keskittynyt kuvaileva vaihe huipentui J.A. Isakovin vuoden 1952 monografiaan, jossa kartoitettiin 10 lajia. Resurssien tutkimisen aikana 1960-80-luvulla päähuomio oli monien lajien taantumisessa ja ihmisten toiminnan aiheuttamissa ongelmissa. Säännölliset konferenssit kokosivat paljon tietoa, mutta Isakov ei saanut suunnittelemaansa uutta perusteosta valmiiksi ennen kuolemaansa. Neuvostoliiton hajoamisesta lähtien olemme eläneet mutkikkaiden, perusekologiaan ja monikomponenttisiin biologisiin prosesseihin keskittyvien tutkimusten aikaa. Samalla ovat tutkimusmäärärahat romahtaneet.

Suojelupuolella ovat valvonnan pettäessä korostuneet laittomuuksien, salametsästyksen ja muiden ympäristörikosten dramaatiset vaikutukset Keski-Aasiassa, Kiinassa ja Koreassa talvehtivien sorsalintujen elinoloihin, kun taas Länsi-Euroopan talvehtimisalueilla on ollut edulliset olosuhteet.

RGG:s annual bulletin Casarca (the branta-goose) is published since 1995. On its 400 pages, the latest issue, number 7, contains English translations or comprehensive summaries of all articles. Essentially, number 7 is the Proceedings of the Moscow Conference. Reading the introduction articles, I just could not miss the mention on page 19 of the very fruitful cooperation with the Friends of the Lesser White-frontred Goose. ResolutionMoscow2001.html

Four articles on the LWfG, and two on captive geese

A.A: Romanov kirjoittaa Taimyrin Putoranan tasangon kiljuhanhipesinnöistä vuosina 1990 - 2001 mm. että Kutaramakan- järvellä pesi 30-40 paria, mutta Muksun-joen laaksosta sekä Glubokoe-, Sobachie-, ja Nakomiaken- järviltä ne olivat hyvin vähissä. Diupkun-järven painateessa on ilmeisesti Taimyrin suurin kiljuhanhikeskittymä, ainakin satakunta paria. Tutkimusten päätulkos on, että kiljuhanhi pesii Taimyrin alueella luultua etelämpänä, selvästi 68 leveysasteesta etelään.

S.B. Rosenfeld kuvailee pitkässä artikkelissa kiljuhanhen ravintoekologiaa Yamalin tundralla vuonna 1998. Sekä poikasten että aikuisten ravinto selvitetään. Olennaista on kiljuhanhen pieni koko ja pesiminen yksittäisinä pareina, ei kolonioina. Kuten muutkin pienet hanhet, kiljuhanhi pysty munimaan suhteellisin vähäisin keväisin rasvavaroin ja tulee toimeen karkealla ja vähäravinteisella ravinnolla. Eteläisellä pesimäalueella kiljukkailla on erilainen ravinto, koska kasvillisuus eroaa suuresti pohjoisesta tundrasta. Pesimättömät linnut saavat parempaa ravintoa, koska ne voivat liikkua vapaammin. Levinneisyysalueen etelärajaan vaikuttanee se, että kasvillisuus kehittyy kesän edetessä etelässä liian nopeasti karkeaksi ja huonoksi poikasten syödä. Näytteissä oli kovin vähän Equisetum arvensea, hanhenpoikien perusmuonaa.

A.B. Grichenkon artikkelissa kerrotaan Kiljuhanhien talvehtimisesta Krimillä. Syksyisissä laskennoissa alle prosentti hanhista (100 000) oli kiljukkaita, kevätprosenttia ei tunneta. Kiljuhanhi todettiin Krimillä varmasti vasta 1995. Nuorten lintujen osuudeksi ilmoitetaan 2,5 ja 45 prosenttia (v.98-99 ja 99-00); pilkkuvirhekö. LIntujen uskotaan edustavan Taimyrin kantaa.

Johann Mooij perustelee seikkaperäisessä englanninkieleisessä kirjoituksessaan ultrakevyiden lentokoneiden käyttöä sijaisemoina Ruotsin tai Suomen istutusprojektissa. Länsi-palerktisen kannan tantuminen 50 000 yksilöstä pariin tuhanteen ja Fennoskandian kannan tuho (10 000 -> alle 100) on syy tehdä jotakin. Ultrakevyt lentokone tuo tilastollisesti paremman paluuprosentin ensimmäiseltä muutolta kuin valkoposki- sijaisemo. Saksalaisprojektin tavoitteena on istuttaa vuosittain noin 70 hanhenpoikaa.

I.A. Volodin ja E.V. Volodina Moskovan eläintarhasta kuvailevat mielenkiintoista koetta punakaulahanhien kasvatuksessa. Tarhakasvatuksessa on useino ngelmana lisääntymiselle väärä ilmasto, näin Taimyrin punakaulahanhille Moskovassakin -- etenkin luonnosta pyydystetyille. Pesimiskäyttäytyminen saatiin laukeamaan, kun valaistuksella simuloitiin loppukevättä jo maalis-huhtikuussa, jolloin Moskovassa on sopivan kylmää. Moscow Zoo

M.A. Tarhanova (!) on Moskovan eläintarhassa tutkinut valkoposkihanhien lisääntymistä suhteessa niiden parvihierarkiaan. Huonostatuksisen koiraan naaras saattaa joutua pesimään kelvottomassa paikassa, mikä pilaa tuloksen. Moscow Zoo

You can order a copy of Casarca-7 through the Friends of the Lesser White-fronted Goose, or directly from RRG.



Iranian LWfG -- and Great White Cranes

(Jamshid Mansoori )

Working for the Friends of the Lesser White-fronted Goose, professorJamshid Mansoori from Tehran and his team have started to search for wintering Lesser White-fronted Geese in Iran. The forst study area is just south of the Caspian Sea, but there is interest in other localitiies, too --- and other species!

Report from Iran (Jamshid Mansoori )

In search of Lesser-white Fronted Goose, I have visited Fereydoun Kenar last week. I have seen only 3 L.W.F.Geese in flight. The local trapper informed me that there are more than 9 more in the area, but I could not find them.

However, at present one of my colleages in the Department of the Environmentis visiting the area with a group of Russian ornithologists, and he is one of our team member, and he will try to find the L.W.F.Goose as well. These Russian ornithologists according to a joint project have brought 3 Siberian Cranes and they intend to released them in Fereydoun Kenar for further research.

I think it would be interesting for you to explain a little about the Fereydoun Kenar. The area is called Damgah. The method they use it is that a trapper sit in a hide near the wetland and releases wild Mallards which are tamed into the wetland. there is a hide ditch between the wetland and a hidden trap as well. The trapper spread some grains in the ditch and under the trap. As the tamed Mallards making noise and start to eat grains, attract the wild Mallards and bring them under the trap.the man suddenly pull the thread of trap and catch the wild birds. All the tamed Mallards leave the trap from a narrow ditch under the trap.

After I came back to Iran I found out that I should visit more areas than we have decided in Spain. The L.W.F.Goose is a migrant bird therefore, in Fereydoun Kenar they stay for a short period in fact for their refueling. It seems that at this time we should search for them in the areas in the south-west of Iran.Also I asked another colleage from Uromiyeh to visit all the important sites of southern parts of Uromiyeh lake. I know that those areas are now under snow and it is unlikely there is no Goose in that areas.

However, I will send you a detail report about the surveys next month, and I am waiting for telescope. Please send my regards to all the friends in Finland. JM.



The International Wild Waterfowl Association (IWWA)

Walter Sturgeon


About us

The International Wild Waterfowl Association (IWWA) was established in 1958 by a group of farsighted aviculturists, conservationists, and ornithologists. Conservation pioneers - Dr. Jean DeLacour, Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, Mr. Randall Maybey, Dr. George Allen, and Sir Peter Scott - launched IWWA's early efforts to preserve the whooping crane (Grus americana) and trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator). Today, our members include private aviculturists, students, researchers, conservationists, educators, zoo professionals, and waterfowl enthusiasts from around the world.

Waterfowl in trouble

Currently, one-third of all wild waterfowl are considered threatened or endangered. Habitat loss and human population growth are the primary causes of waterfowl declines, and these factors are growing annually. Human population is projected to increase from 5.7 to 10 billion by the year 2050, and to continue to grow for more than 100 years.

IWWA is working to preserve all 234 taxa of wild waterfowl, and with your help in meeting the challenge, much can be done.

What we do

IWWA is committed to protecting and enhancing wild waterfowl habitats, as shown in our support of a Zuni reservation wetland project near Albuquerque, New Mexico.

IWWA supports the captive breeding and restoration of the endangered Nene (Branta sandvicensis), such as the innovative program of propagation and soft-release on the Hawaiian island of Molokai.

IWWA supports the establishment and maintenance of genetically diverse and disease-free captive populations of endangered waterfowl, such as the white-winged wood duck (Cairina scutulata) project at Sylvan Heights in North Carolina.

IWWA is a partner in cooperative conservation projects, such as our partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society and the American Zoological Association's Waterfowl Taxon Advisory Group, working to establish genetically diverse, captive populations of the Chilean torrent duck (Merganetta a. armata) and the bronze-winged duck (Anas specularis).

IWWA champions research about little-known wild waterfowl species, such as our support of pioneering work with Tule geese (Anser albifrons gambelli) and current research on the masked duck (Oxyura dominica).

IWWA educates waterfowl conservationists by support of publications such as Frank Todd's Natural History of the Waterfowl, the classic Raising Wild Ducks in Captivity, and our newsletter, published since 1969.

IWWA fosters the exchange of information about waterfowl, both wild and captive, and wetlands, among professionals through our conferences, held regularly since 1959. IWWA's annual awards program recognizes outstanding leadership and achievement in the conservation and the captive-culture of wild waterfowl.

IWWA strongly believes in the roles of aviculture and in-situ conservation in sustaining wild waterfowl. We use these tools in a dynamic conservation policy that informs our international legislative activities concerning permitting regulations, public land use, and conservation.

Our focus on the future

IWWA addresses key needs for the future of endangered waterfowl: protection of natural habitat and increased capacity of captive breeding facilities.

While the need to preserve habitat is obvious, the importance of captive breeding facilities may not be. The private and institutional captive display and breeding of waterfowl has helped educate the public, provide research opportunities and expand waterfowl conservation options. Pending habitat restoration, the existence of some species can only be ensured through captive breeding facilities. Yet, current facilities world-wide can house only about 25,000 ducks, geese, and swans - about 100 individuals of each of the 234 taxa. This is not adequate for the maintenance of genetically diverse, viable populations.

Come join us

To strengthen and expand our work on behalf of wild waterfowl, we need your participation. Please see our new website at
Our 2003 conventions will be held in Witchita, KS and Germany





Goose 2002 - Wetlands International at Cota Donana

Pentti Alho and Lauri Kahanpää


Wetlands International's Goose Specialist Group held their annual Conference Dec. 13-18 2002 in El Rocio at Cota Donana National Park in Spain. The Friends of the LWfG were represented by Lauri Kahanpää and our aviculture by Pentti Alho. There were other Finns: in alphabetical order Erkki Kellomäki, Juha Markkola, Jorma Pessa, Minna Ruokonen and Petteri Tolvanen. We had also invited Marina Kholodova from Moscow. She presented the findings of the genetic test of the Finnish captive LWfG.

Cota Donana (Draft)

Descripiton of Park and Excursion

Cota Donana is--- a marvelous place... vey large--- in the Guadilquivir deltaa... Best weather on excursion day...

Splendid, smooth organization, very friendly,,,wonderful food, good atmosphere... it worked very well.... Thanks to J.J. Chans, ans his team. (Reward: LWFG painting) Next time in Odessa. (If not already in Olonets)..

Our own contributions

The Friends presented a poster, presenting the history of our project. Half of the text (Fifteen years of breeding LWfG in Finland) is reprinted in this issue of the Bulletin, the other half (Comparison of Two LWfG Re-introduction Projects ) having been published in 1/2002 already.

Dr. Marina V. Kholodova (A.N.Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution , RAS Moscow, Russia) talked on her research on the genetics of our captive Lesser White-fronted Geese. The main rewsults are presented in her article below. The complete report of her study can be found behind this link.

Other Talks and Posters

Here we mention the contributions directly referring to the LWfG or having some other contact to the Freinds of the LWfG. For details and other talks we refer to the conference Proceedings.

Petteri Tolvanen introduced the important Life-Nature-proposal of WWF -Finland and their partners. The Project aims at finding out the migration routes, protecting habitats, and reducing hunting pressure.

Jamshid Mansoori - our representative in Iran - estimated the range and numbers of Iranian Greylag Geese, both wintering and breeding (total approx. 100 000). hunting is restricted by a daily maximum bag of 2 birds. Professor Mansoori and the Friends of the Lesser White-fronted Goose agreed upon starting an LWfG Project in Iran. The Project aims at finding out the migration routes, protecting habitats, and reducing hunting pressure. Jamshid Mansoori's first report is published in this Bulletin.

Vladimir Morozov

gave an interesting talk, mentioning among other things, that his team had neck-ringed 16 adult and 4 juvenile LWfG in the Polar Urals in 1999-2002. The only re-sightings were 2 juvenils shot in the same autumn (2000) in Maynach Valley, and a third one killed in Tyumen Oblast (West Siberia) same season. So, the question about the migration route of the geese of the Polar Ural region remains unsolved. However, it was confirmed that the Maynach river Valley remains one of the key stop-over sites of the LWfG during migration. Unfortunately, we do not know, where the wintering grounds of this population of LWfG are located. We are only able to guess that they can be found somewhere in South-Eastern Europe, because the ringed birds were shot near the Azov Sea belonging to the Mediterranean basin. Also, breeding results had been monitored. Normal numbers are 3,5 to 4,5 juv / successful breeding, depending on the year.

The state of the LWfG in the European NE of Russia (Malozemenjatskaja tundra) was described in the talk by O.Yu. and N. Mineev. The places of nesting and molting were found, the borders of a breeding range are outlined, the observations over breeding are carried out, the number of the species is determined.

Erkki Kellomäki et al. reported on geese in the Kargopol region in North-Western Russia. He also reported on Geese in Olonets and North-Western Kazakhstan. Hopefully, he will report on these issues in our next bulletin.

Aktion Zwerggans presented two posters on their ULA-project. On this, a separate report is published in this Bulletin.

On the Bar-headed Goose Project

Prakash Gole from India and our good friend Alexanser Jakovlev from Kygyzstan had both been invited by WI to debate on conservation of the Bar-headed Goose in Central Asia, but unfortunately neither was present. We had to do with a poster sent by Dr. Prakash Gole.

Anser indicus, winters in south Asia and breeds in the Palearctic from Mongolia to the Tibetan plateau. It has a small breding area in the Ladakh area in India, too. In Central Asia it breeds only in small numbers. Under his visit at Son Kul in Kyrgyzstan in 1997, Prakash Gole had observed a small breeding colony and good numbers of a non-breeding population. The status and threats were assessed. Some information concerning wintering sites in Myanmar was given.

Prakash Gole does not support Alexander Jakovlev's project. Maybe, we should mention, that Anser indicus is breeding in Europe today.

.The LWfG Task Force is going through a Phoenix re-birth process

An ornithologist, not knowing the facts of life - in particular after death - should consult Encyclopaedia Britannica or some other reliable source of information , perhaps the WWW, not the WWF, to find out exactly how Phoenix birds breed. We are waiting.


A genetic test of captive LWfG

by Dr. Marina V. Kholodova (A.N.Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, RAS, 119071, Moscow, Russia)

Here behind you find her complete report in PDF

Captive breeding of endangered species is helpful both for conservation of the genetic diversity and for creating of the risk populations for future re-introductions. It is specially important for glpbally threatened species such as the Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus). The genetic study of the captive stock is very important.


The methods

Our pilot project consists of two studies. In the first one, we investigated the hypervariable fragment (domain 1) of the control region of mitochondrial DNA (length 281 bp). In the second, in order to characterize the total (chromosome, ed.) DNA, we carried out the RAPD-PCR analysis with 3 primers. Finally, for comparison we carried out a SSCP-analysis of the short fragment of sex chromosome genes.

The samples

We had samples from 36 captive LWfG of a farm in Finland, and compared them to data from wild LWfG (3 samples from the Polar Ural) and to samples of a closely related species, the (Greater) Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons) (2 samples from Arkhangel'sky region, Kanin), and also to data from GenBank.

Main results

The haplotypes of the mitochondria of captured birds could roughly be divided in 3 groups, one of them very close to the type observed in the three wild LWfG samples, another type close to the mt haplotypes of Greater White-fronted Goose (9 samples), the third differing from both.

By total DNA, the RAPD-PCR-patterns of all LWfG were very close to each other, and at the same time rather distant from the Greater White-fronted Goose patterns. This applies to all samples, independent of origin or mt-DNA type. The SSCP- analysis gave similar results.


White fronted (Anser albifrons) and Lesser white fronted (A.erythropus) geese are very close species, both morphologically and ecologically. That is why the problem of hybridization and the base of conclusion about the fact of hybridization between these species is very complicated.

Let us think of the origin of the "GWfG-type mitochondria" in some captive LWfG. They may of course have their origin in hybridization. But according to Garrigan et al. (2002), the observed mt-DNA haplotype pattern may result from a bottleneck in the hsitory of the LWfG. When population size is low, rare allels are easily lost, many of which may be mutational intermediates between surviving haplotypes. The "GWfG-type mitochondria" may just be unique ancestral forms, common to both related species and rare or lost in nature. Why have these common mt haplotypes not been detected in nature then? There are two possible answers.

The first answer: During a bottleneck, these rare haplotypes were lost by the gene drift. The conclusion: It is very important to save the birds with these unique haplotypes in captivity. (The author has encounterd such a phenomenon in her earlier work on the Saiga Antelope. editor's remark).

The second answer: The number of studied wild samples of LWFG and GWFG is low, and these haplotypes may just have not been detected. The conclusion: A comprehensive study of both taxa is important.

For a final decision on the hybrid nature of these birds, it is ultimately necessary to use different molecular markers, and a wide comparison with wild specimens of both taxa over a large part of their breeding range.

Another question: The questional LWFG may indeed have some "blood" of hybrids between LWFG and GWFG. Is it a sufficient reason to kill them?

Hybridization between bird species is not rare in nature (Rising,1983; Panov,1989). Panov (1989) in his review writes that more than 5 up to ten per cent of birds species are involved in hybridization. Hybridization between LWFG and GWFG takes place in the wild (Panov,1989). In some aspects,concerning the conservation of the evolutionary process, the words which were said about the American Red Wolf by Paquet (2001) can be applied to the LWFG:

"The dilemma for conservation is to determine whether such hybridization would have occurred had there been no human disturbance. If the Red Wolf is not a valid species, the point is moot. If it is a valid species and hybridization occurs as a natural phenomenon, then it is the process rather than the entity that needs to be protected. On the other hand, if the Red wolf is valid but hybridization is unnatural, then the species should be protected for all the reasons we work to protect biodiversity. The lesson would seem to be that we should give equal consideration to the protection of evolutionary processes as well as to the protection of species. Until now, conservationists have focused only on the protection of species, but that approach will fail in evolutionary time. "

Main conclusions and recommentations


Farms and Zoos


IWWA sponsors bird farm keeper Pentti Alho

Walter Sturgeon

Pentti Alho. Foto Erkki Kellomäki

Congratulations! It is with great pleasure that the International wild Waterfowl Association awards You a grant ... to help maintain the program for breeding lesser white-fronted geese in captivity for restoration of this species in Finland....

Would You consider writing a short article for our newsletter? We publish it four times a year and we are always interested in hearing about waterfowl projects.

Again, congratulations. I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Finnish Bird Hospitals Begin Co-operation

Eeva Rudbäck and Lauri Kahanpää

Kiljuhanhen Ystävät ja Heinolan kaupunki kutsuivat Suomen eläinhoitolat verkottumiskokoukseen 14.10 2002. Heinolan kaupungin isännöimä kokous onnistui hyvin ja hoitoloiden yhteistoiminta alkaa sillä tavalla, että järjestetään jäsenhoitoloiden tiedotuskanava yhteisen kotisivupaikan kautta ja ympäristöministeriölle tehdään aloite hoitolatoiminnan virallistamiseksi.


Suomessa toimii parikymmentä hoitopaikkaa loukkaantuneille luonnonvaraisille eläimille, pääasiassa linnuille. Eläinhoitolat ja eläintarhat tekevät tärkeätä työtä luonnon monimuotoisuuden säilyttämiseksi ja eläinsuojelun edistämiseksi. Eläinhoitoloihin otetaan vuosittain vastaan 2000-3000 loukkaantunutta tai nääntynyttä eläintä. Noin puolet niistä voidaan kuntoutuksen jälkeen vapauttaa takaisin luontoon. Eläinhoitolat tiedottavat aktiivisesti omasta toiminnastaan ja valistavat yleisöä luonnonvaraisten eläinten suojelusta ja hoidosta. Tiedotuksen avulla voidaan estää esimerkiksi pesistä lähteneiden linnunpoikasten tarpeeton huostaan otto ja hoitoon toimittaminen. Yksinäinen rastaan poikanen ei ole koskaan emonsa hylkäämä. Emo odottaa pääsyä ruokkimaan, kunnes ihminen on poistunut paikalta.


Julkiset eläintarhat (Korkeasaari, Ähtäri ja Ranua) voivat eläintautien leviämisriskin vuoksi vain hyvin rajoitetusti ottaa vastaan luonnonvaraisia eläimiä. Useimmat eläimiä vastaanottavat hoitolat ovat yksityisiä ja toimivat lahjoitusten varassa. Varojen puute on yhteinen ongelma hoitopaikoissa. Pienten hoitoloiden tilat ovat myös liian ahtaat, eikä kaikkia tarjottuja eläimiä voida ottaa vastaan. Vaikeuksia esiintyy myös eläinten kuljetuksen järjestämisessä. Linja-autoverkosto on harventunut eivätkä bussit aina ota eläimiä kuljetettavakseen.

The meeting

Paikalla Heinolassa oli edustajia eri puolelta Suomea, Ranualta, Kuopiosta, Ähtäristä, Jyväskylästä, Muuramesta, Heinolasta, Lahdesta, Hämeenkoskelta, Orimattilasta, Hämeenlinnasta, Valkeakoskelta, Porista, Porvoosta ja Helsingistä. Kokouksen järjestäjänä toimi Heinolan kaupungin lintutarha.

Talks and decisions


Bird Hospital Hall Completed and Opened

Lauri Kahanpää



Inaugural speech

"Monet loukkaantuneet tai pahasti väsyneet linnut voidaan hoitaa kuntoon ja palauttaa luontoon. Erityisen tärkeätä tämä on rauhoitettujen lajien kohdalla. Tätä tehdään menestyksellisesti mm. Heinolan kaupungin ainutlaatuisella lintutarhalla, joka ottaa vastaan satoja lintuja vuodessa. Koko maassa on pula hoitopaikoista ja jokasyksyiset lehtiuutiset kertovat poliisin joutuneen kuljettamaan joutsenen tai kuikan paremman paikan puutteessa putkaan. Hoito onkin pitkälti asialle omistautuneiden yksityisten, usein lintuharrastajien, -tarhaajien ja eläinlääkäreiden, varassa." sanoi hoitolaprojektista vastaava Lauri Kahanpää avajaispuheessaan. "Tämäkin hoitola on pystytetty pääosin talkoovoimin, mutta ulkopuolista tukea on toki tarvittu ja saatu niin yksityisiltä, valtiovallalta kuin Euroopan Aluetukirahastoltakin. Tästä on syytä olla kiitollinen."

Tarkoitus on myös levittää tietoa oikeasta tavasta toimia, kun käsissä on luonnonvarainen eläin, joka ei pärjää avutta. "Oikea toimintamalli on kaksiosainen: 1) Jätä eläin maastoon, jos et ole aivan varma, että hoito on välttämätöntä. 2) Soita asiantuntijalle, mielellään lintuhoitolaan tai vaikka Korkeasaaren, Ähtärin tai Ranuan eläintarhan neuvontaan." Näin opasti tarhaaja Pentti Alho avajaisväkeä.

The hall

Avajaisten yhteydessä käyttöön otettu hoitolahalli on osittain talvilämmin ja eristetty kiljuhanhien osastosta. Lintuhoitola on eläinlääkärien valvonnan alainen. Hallissa on eläinlääkärin käyttöön pieni huone, mutta siellä ei tehdä linnuille varsinaisia kirurgisia toimenpiteitä. Tiedot tarhalla hoidettavista linnuista kootaan Riista- ja kalatalouden tutkimuslaitokselle (RKTL) ja näytteet kuolleista linnuista lähetetään Eläinlääkintä- ja elintarvikelaitokseen (EELA).

The project

Lintuhoitolan kunnostus on osa Kiljuhanhen Ystävät ry.:n ja Heinolan kaupungin vuosina 2001-2003 toteuttamaa EU-osarahoitteista hankketta "Päijät-Hämeen lintuhoitolat ja luontomatkailu" jonka tavoitteita ovat myös yleisön ympäristötietoisuuden nostaminen ja ympäristökasvatus, kestävällä pohjalla toimivan luontomatkailun edistäminen Päijät-Hämeessä sekä Heinolan lintutarhan tunnetuksi tekeminen koko Suomessa. Projekti saa tukea Euroopan aluekehitysrahastolta Hämeen ympäristökeskuksen kautta. Projektin muita osapuolia ovat Kiljuhanhen Ystävät ry, Heinolan kaupungin lintutarha, Keski-Hämeen ympäristöyhdistys ry, Hämeenlinnan seudun kansanterveystyön kuntayhtymän Ympäristöosasto ja Suomen Metsästäjäliitto.


Here come some photos. Click for blow-up. More photos, showing people and birds will come later. Pictures taken during Construction can be seen on the Phototeque and Hospital pages of our net site

The Hall and parts of the Great Fence




After the Party
The Gate
The First Inhabitant


The Society

Awards 2002

2000 Auvo Taivalvuo
2001 Kari Eisher
2002 Pekka Saikko

The following persons have been awarded with LWfG paintings by The Friends of the LWfG soc. We warmly congratulate the winners.

The following companies have been awarded with LWfG paintings by The Friends of the LWfG soc. We express our gratitude.

The Friends thank those who have contributed to our work in a special way, by donating a high class signed and nubered print of a LWfG painting. A series of Finnish artists have painted them and donated the copyright to the society. The paintings will be published annually, the three first were the work of the artists Auvo Taivalvuo, Kari Eischer and Pekka Saikko.


An important donation:

Erkki Kellomäki

A very good friend of the Lesser White-fronted Goose (as well as of its Friends) Erkki Kellomäki will retire from his position as Director of Häme environmental center on Mar. 31. 2003. To show their appreciation of Erkki's career, his friends have followed his wish, and donated funds to our society. We express our gratitude for this donation of 2824 euro and wish Erkki Kellomäki tenthousand happy years, as the saying goes in China. The funds will be spent to finance our participation in the on-going EU-supported project. 


Invitation to General Meeting

The Friends of the Lesser Whitre-fronted Goose are invited to join our Annual General Meeting at Häme Environmental Centre in Hämeenlinna Biger Jaarlin katu 13 on ( March 31. at 6 pm)

The Action Plan for 2003 will contain a proposition to begin re-introductions in co-operation with foreign projects, or independently. Of course, also all standard items are included in the agenda to be sent to You soon.



Sponsors 2002

Häme Regional Environment Centre
The International Wild Waterfowl Association (IWWA)
Korkeasaaren ystävät ry
Lämpöura Ky Pentti Tenhunen
Markprint Oy
Pirkanmaan lintutieteellinen yhdistys ry.
Raatikuva Ky Heikki Löflund
Rosenlew puutarhakalvot
Artist Pekka Saikko
Suomen Terästekniikka Oy

Contact information

mail: PO-Box 517 / FIN 13111 Hämeenlinna
e-mail: <>
chairman: fil. dr. Lauri Kahanpää
tel: (358)14-2602716 and (358)14-253364 (Finland=358)
fax: (358)14-2602701
farm: tel/fax 03 7654 727, mobile (358)440- 654727
foreign membership: USD 50 or EUR 50 per annum

<> not yet published, Draft updated Apr 20..2004