Experimental release of Black Stork young hatched in captivity

As with other conservation projects for threatened species, various centres and institutions at a European level took action to create a programme of breeding in captivity with the aim of obtaining individuals suitable for release, thus guaranteeing potential support for the population currently present in the wild.

Data regarding breeding in captivity is recorded in the studbook for the species. In 2004, out of about 300 individuals present in various centres, only 11 pairs bred, with a total of 27 juveniles fledged. The difficulties of reproduction in captivity of this species seem mostly to be linked to the impact of incorrectly-managed human presence added to the effective difficulty in forming compatible pairs. Objective data is unavailable regarding the follow-up of juveniles hatched in captivity and subsequently released into the wild. 

As result of these considerations, an pilot project was carried out at the Centro Monticello and the Parco Lombardo del Ticino in collaboration with the Tierpark Goldau and the University of Berne (Switzerland), and the Associazione Il Colibrì thanks to co-funding from the Fondazione Cariplo. 

In 2006, at the Centro Monticello, two pairs bred and raised five young: one male and one female were selected for release into the wild. 

Both individuals were fitted with a satellite transmitter, which was secured on their back with a harness. They were transferred to a purpose-built pre-release cage in Oriano, in the northern area of the Parco del Ticino. 

After release at the beginning of September, the male spent some weeks in the Padana Plain and then in Tuscany before undertaking the long flight to Tunisia  and then returned to the italian coast. This is the first documented case of the double migration of a black stork hatched and raised in a controlled environment.