One peaceful morning, a couple of swans and their cubs walk along the banks of a river, while passers-by immortalize them with their smartphones. The next day, the walkers are back, but the palmiped family has vanished. The phenomenon is not uncommon in Ile-de-France, if we are to believe the nature preservation associations and bird lovers. Both believe that these disappearances are essentially the result of poaching fueling trafficking. Count 1,000 euros for the purchase of a swan on the black market, and an even more tidy sum for a couple.
“Two pairs of swans usually share our small territory”, explains Dominique Lemée, the president of the association for the safeguard of the Arm of the Chapter and its surroundings (ASBCA), a structure mobilized for the defense of the environment on the islands on the banks of the Marne, in Créteil (Val-de-Marne).
If she regularly notes “samples” of swans from a litter, this year, “the problem has worsened with the theft of the two females and their eggs. There is only one individual left here today, one of the two males having been attacked by a dog. “We took him to the Maisons-Alfort veterinary school, but he did not survive his injuries”, regrets Dominique Lemée.
The wings cut, they decorate private ponds
A few kilometers away, the same concerns animate the members of the Lac de Créteil collective. “Wildlife is under considerable pressure in urban areas,” underlines Michel Noël, one of the founding members of this collective who is familiar with these poaching problems.
As for the carp, it is with “a logic of immediate profit” that these swans and their defenders are confronted. Sometimes sold through Internet sales platforms, these swans are mainly called upon to serve as ornamental birds for private ponds. In these cases, they are joined. “We cut the tips of their wings to prevent them from flying away,” says Jean-Luc Wolf, another wildlife observer.
He has his habits in the departmental park of the Blue Beach, located in Valenton. If poachers have been caught here as they set out to capture goldfinches using glue, he never had to steal the feathers of a swan hunter.
“I cannot say with certainty that all these animals have been poached, not having directly witnessed such acts,” he says. But it’s still astonishing to see a dozen swans disappear in a few days, as is the case at the Blue Beach. “
Some evoke a “network of thieves”
For its part, the Bird Protection League (LPO) was “contacted three times at the end of May for the flights of juvenile swans on the banks of the Marne and in the Yvelines”. “Unfortunately, this is far from a first! », Comments the association which forwarded the reports to the French Biodiversity Office, without obtaining more details on the municipalities concerned. Dominique Lemée is more affirmative: “The network of thieves is also rife in Saint-Maur and Bonneuil”, she indicates.
On the side of the Bois de Vincennes, in Paris (12th), Jacqueline is no less worried. This 71-year-old Parisian has been walking the immense green lung for forty years. Several times a week, the one who describes herself as “passionate about life” walks around the lakes of Minimes and Daumesnil.
For this accustomed place, it is not the foxes or the gray herons which decimates the populations of swans from one day to the next. “There is poaching in the Bois de Vincennes,” she sums up. And not just for the swans. “
“It is imperative a flagrante delicto”
How to put out of harm’s way these populations of bipeds driven by greed? “I sent proofs, photos, in recent years, I have not had a conclusive return”, breathes Jacqueline.
Installing camera traps or webcams on where swans live, particularly above nests, is this a solution? “Even if we capture images at night, with a hooded figure, what to do with it ?, asks Dominique Lemée. It is imperative a flagrante delicto. And they are rare.
Last September, after having escaped the security service of the Chantilly (Oise) estate while he was trying to steal one of the park’s many feathered guests, one of these swan thieves was picked up at his home by the gendarmes. In January, the Senlis court sentenced him to six months in prison and a fine of 500 euros for breaking into the field. “I wanted to protect these swans to release them in (the river) Oise”, he had muttered by way of explanation.