Martins birds

The Hungarian swallows are very close to extinction. In order to protect them, the Let’s save the swallows! Facebook group was formed. Our interviewee is one of the founders of the group, Tamás Tóth, who talks about the cause and how they are trying to get more people involved.

Members of the Mentsük meg a fecskéket! [Let’s save the swallows!] Facebook group, among other things, put out artificial nests for the birds, and they also popularise swallow diapers to convince people that there is a way to live with the birds in a more hygienic way.

Wild animals return in Hungary

You are known as a huge bird- and animal lover. Do you remember when and how this care for these creatures started? Did you have pets as a child?

Instead of cartoons, I grew up on David Attenborough’s nature documentaries. I learnt to care for animals from my father. When I was a child, I wanted to become a biologist or a veterinarian. Of course, my interests changed later, but this care for animals never went away. We lived in the countryside while I was growing up, and it was always natural for me to have all kinds of animals around me. Now, I only have fish at home.

Is this your first organisation to protect an animal species? Do you think you will speak out for other animals in the future?

This is my first initiative. I am a member of the Hungarian Organisation for Ornithology and Nature Conservation (MME), but I took part in the protection of birds more actively when I was a teen. I know nothing of the future. Protecting the local swallows is of the utmost importance for me right now.

You mentioned in a previous interview that you asked local governments to help with your swallow initiative. Did you get any positive responses? How helpful are local governments in the matter?

Unfortunately, this part of my initiative did not turn out to be successful. Luckily, there are a few positive examples, but many governments only asked for advice or legal guidance. However, we will visit Hajdúnánás on 20 April to put artificial nests on the government building with the mayor’s help.

You also mentioned before that the organisation finances the projects on its own. Did you manage to get sponsors to support your initiative? Did any Hungarian celebrities support your cause?

Yes, we managed to get supporters. For example, the Zöld Válasz Egyesület [Green Answer Association] offered 30 artificial nests and printed 400 of our flyers. Our Facebook group also ordered many artificial nests which we will put up together. We also tried to get famous people involved. Linda Zimány (Hungarian model and TV personality), Mosolyka (Instagram influencer) and Giajjenno (rapper) all made videos to popularise our cause.

Your Facebook group Mentsük meg a fecskéket! [Let’s save the swallows!] has more than 5,000 members. Did it expand dynamically? How do you popularise the group?

We surpassed 4,000 within the first three weeks. After that, there was a noticeable deceleration. The cause is popularised by the group members themselves, and we also appeared in the press a few times. We also had a flyer campaign and launched many Facebook ads as well.

Apart from artificial nests, swallow diapers and mud traces, what other things can we do to protect the swallows?

Our main goal is to change the way people think. I find it unbelievable that people destroy the swallows’ nests (often filled with young birds) just because they are bothered by the noise, the birds’ flying or their faeces.  We are talking about a species very close to extinction, and their usefulness is invaluable. For example, nobody likes mosquitos or flies. A house has much less of these if there are a few swallows around.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Our job does not stop in September when the swallows go South. The winter of 2019-2020 will be the time to prepare. We are planning to achieve significant changes in protecting the swallows.

Featured image: Illustration/Pixabay

Source: Sokszínű Vidék

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