The strange case of a Black Kite marked in Tarifa and recovered in Benin, West Africa.

Migratory birds don’t recognise borders, and finding out where they are passing through, and going to and from is vital not only to understand the threats and areas for conservation but also to bring to life the epic story of migration.

Flyway-scale conservation and funding must be driven by good science, wise spending and cross-border, holistic conservation.  Ecotourism has a part to play here and that is why we developed our #FlywayPromise  and the concept of #FlywayBirding – directly experiencing the magic of migration, further understanding the its perils, and directly contributing to benefit migratory birds along the East Atlantic Flyway.

At this moment we have been watching Black Kites coming through The Straits here and our minds turn to the epic journeys they have undertaken.

Black Kite © Inglorious Bustards

Our friend, Fundación Migres chief ornithologist and Inglorious Bustards guide Alejandro Onrubia tells us the unusual but not unique tale of a Black Kite ringed here in Tarifa and recovered in Benin, West Africa

“Two weeks ago (February 2, 2021) a trapper from Benin (West Africa) live-captured a Black Kite that Fundación Migres had ringed in The Strait of Gibraltar in August 2018. Often these birds can end up in local markets or being eaten.  With the rings, necklaces and bracelets are sometimes made and in fact, these ringed birds are sometimes targeted for capture to remove the rings and make jewellery or ornaments. On some previous occasions, when birds marked with emitters or wing marks were captured in their wintering grounds, the trappers contacted Migres to request a ransom for the birds’ release!

In the case of this ringed Black Kite, it was lucky that it fell into the hands of a local person who loves birds (Mr. A.B.). He looked at the ring and its return address, searched the internet and contacted the Spanish ringing center. From there, they contacted me (the bander) and passed their contact on to me. And so I got in touch with this man from Benin to see where and when they had captured the Kite, for what … and of course to ask him to release it.

At first, he told me that he could not release it because the hunters and trappers would capture and / or kill it again, and told me that he could “send it to Spain by courier to return it” or “I could go directly to Benin to pick it up”. I told him that it was impossible because the animal would not withstand the trip, it was very expensive and many permits were required, and I could not travel to Benin either. The fact is that he is finally going to free him, although he wants to wait for the rainy season so that they do not kill him and he can return to Spain.

I asked Mr A.B. how and why they capture the birds there in Benin, and he indicated that there are many trappers who capture the birds alive with different trapping systems (not firearms), because live birds are priced better in the markets than dead birds. He has indicated to me that it is common for these birds to be eaten, but above all they are sold in the markets for magical rituals (voodoo), to make products to fight against evil spirits, to attract good luck, and many other things.”



Published by Simon Tonkin

'Here at the Inglorious Bustards, experiencing the powerful event of bird migration has led to a life-long fascination with avian migration and #FlywayBirding. It’s no accident that we have chosen our base to be here in the Straits of Gibraltar. Our location between Gibraltar and Tarifa puts us right at the epicentre of birding in the Straits and, from a migrating raptor’s point of view, we must surely also be at the centre of the world! We love not only to marvel at the birds passing but also to follow them on their migratory journey, and explore the whole range of fascinating and varied terrains they traverse each year. More than that though, we love to share our adventures with you!'

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