Last year's successful pilot project monitoring Swiss storks as they fly south will continue this year.
The project, funded by donations and sponsors, will cost around SFr800, 000 and is designed to advance last year's work, which was an effort to secure the future of the 176 storks currently living in Switzerland. The progress of the migration can be followed on the internet.
Four teams of the "SOS Storch" project will once again monitor a flock of storks heading to their winter break. But this year, the two-person teams will follow 27 birds all the way to Africa rather than just to Gibraltar like last year.
The storks will be equipped with tiny transmitters which will enable the researchers to detect their precise location and follow them. This year the journey will take three months as they fly, in part, through war zones in Africa.
The head of the project, Holger Schulze, is not worried about his trip through the troubled continent. He said the teams were cooperating with some of the countries and they even had contacts with nomads in one of the regions.
"SOS Storch's" mission is to find out why only 10 per cent of the Swiss storks come back to their home country after their winter break. Out of last year's 25 "satellite storks" only nine survived their journey to Africa. 17 of the monitored storks died in accidents.
The main cause of death is electricity as many birds get electrocuted after hitting a power cable.
Water towers are another hazard, as the storks are prone to drowning in them. Six birds without transmitters died in a water tower near the French town of Montpellier last year.
swissinfo with agencies