Batumi Raptor Count (BRC) is a nature conservation NGO that works to monitor and conserve the 850,000+ birds of prey that migrate every autumn through the Batumi Bottleneck. A young and forward thinking organisation, BRC has been operating from the Black Sea City of Batumi, in the Republic of Georgia, ever since 2008 when it has organised the first raptor-migration count for the region covering the full autumn season. Although originally created as a monitoring organisation, the scale of the hunting pressure that migratory birds face in the region made us grow to become one of the most active conservation NGO's in Georgia.
Because of the widespread nature and traditional value of hunting in the region we believe a key process to gain support for measures against illegal hunting is to provide information on raptor migration ecology and the worldwide importance of the Batumi bottleneck to local communities.
With the help of regional and international partners we work on capacity building among regional students in conservation research as well as education. We actively engage students from the Caucasus in (accredited) courses to expand their understanding of ecological research practices as well as effective education methods. BRC is also producing high quality education tools such as raptor maquettes and a school education booklet for 8-14 year old children, about Ajara's unique migration spectacle. These tools will be distributed among 1000's of school children in with the support of dedicated educators from the region.
For the further development of a hunting free bottleneck however, more will be needed to convince both local people and government of the importance of these birds. Because in order to effectively ‘conserve nature’, the local economic situation should improve substantially, particularly among village communities. For many regions in Georgia, in particular the Ajara region, tourism provides a very promising outcome!
Finally, a sustainable presence of BRC in Georgia is secured by the active involvment of local people at all levels of our organisation, in cooperation with Georgian organisations working in nature conservation and environmental education.
In short, the Batumi Raptor Count project wishes to promote the development of a well organised, high-quality, long-term monitoring of raptor migration at the Batumi bottleneck, with high potential for a scientific research programme for both professionals as students. In combination, a lot of attention is needed for the situation of the local people as well, as the presence of the birds and the area’s stunning natural richness also provide them with a stable basis for future economic development. Provided good mutual understanding and the cooperation of all organisations and institutions involved, the BRC organizers are convinced that the long-term conservation of Batumi as an area of major importance for migratory birds can be achieved!