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Košice
Storks meet before flying south

OBSERVERS witnessed a gathering of almost 500 storks in Košice's Barca district before their annual flight south for the winter.
"The storks were sitting in the park in almost every tree here, on the local manor houses close to the cemetery, as well as on other buildings. The stork nest in the local manor house remained vacant this year. That is why I was very happy that the big swarm of storks arrived at the end of the summer," said František Krištof, one of the fortunate observers.
Marek Brinzík from the Slovak Bird Protection Society (SOVS) added: "It is typical for storks that at this time of the year they form bigger gatherings and after

On September 5 employees of the Vertical company from Banská Bystrica, all of whom are former climbers, started tearing down the delapidated wall of Trenčín Castle, built in the 15th century.
photo: TASR

the weather cools down they fly together to the south. These are not just storks from Slovakia but also from the surrounding countries, especially Poland," Brinzík said in a press release sent to The Slovak Spectator.
"Watching an almost 500-strong gathering of storks is very interesting. Many experienced ornithologists have not been as lucky as the residents of Barca," Brinzík said.
According to SOVS, this year was not particularly favourable for storks in Slovakia. The late arrival of the spring and the consequent rainy weather were the cause of many unsuccessful attempts to settle nests as well as the low number of stork chicks. Many nests remained empty this year.
Although exact data for nests this year is not yet available, experts expect that the 2005 season to be one of the worst for a decade.
It is therefore important to help storks and provide them with a sufficient number of safe nesting opportunities and hunting territory, SOVS said.


Bratislava
Police arrest people smugglers

A SPECIAL police squad detained a gang of 18 human traffickers during an international police operation called "Orient", which ran from January 27 to August 30.
On August 30 police detained the last three members of the crime group, reported Slovak Interior Minister Vladimír Palko.
All stand accused of founding and supporting a criminal group and making illegal state border crossings. If they are found guilty they could face eight to 12 years' jail sentences, the SITA news agency reported on August 31.
The boss of the gang was an Indian national. However, it also included 12 Slovak members, two Pakistanis, one Bangladeshi and two citizens of the former Yugoslavia.
The gang smuggled at least 150 people from Asia to Slovakia, from where they continued to Austria. Earnings from their illegal trade amounted to at least Sk3.5 million (€91,000).
Palko said that the number of illegal migrants detained by police in the first six months of this year decreased. They detained 2,070 people, compared with 4,184 for the same period in 2004.
In the first half of last year the police charged 160 traffickers while this year the number decreased to 132. Palko puts the improvement down to intensified police measures and stricter sentences for human trafficking in Slovakia.


Nitra
Europe information centre opens

ON AUGUST 26 Europe Direct Information Network, an international information network centre, opened its doors in Nitra, the TASR news agency wrote.
The centre will provide a free service, dealing with EU affairs, legislation, politics, programmes, and supporting institutions.
According to Dušan Slížik, head of the Regional Consultation and Information Centre (RPIC), the annual operating expenses for the new centre will amount to Sk1 million (€26,000). Half of this sum will be paid from the EU Fund; the rest will be covered by RPIC.
In 2005, 12 new information centres have been created in Slovakia. The latest one in Nitra will cover the districts of Zlaté Moravce, Topoľčany, Nitra, Šaľa, Galanta, Hlohovec, and Partizánske.
Slížik expects that students, businessmen and other people will find the consultation services, free access to the Internet and a special EU phone line especially useful. It will be possible to receive information about travel, study programmes, EU funding, and summer and general job opportunities in other EU countries.
"Already, one person has asked about how to get married in England, while others are interested in whether it is possible to take a private car to Ireland for a long period, and how to arrange car insurance," Slížik said.


Tatranská Štrba
Poachers target marmots

POACHERS in Slovakia's Tatras mountains are targeting endangered animal species such as the marmots, as well as uprooting precious plants, guards in the Tatras national park TANAP confirmed.
The poachers apparently dig holes to get to the marmots hidden in the ground.
"The digging out of marmots was registered during works at the Plačivé hill. Seven holes were found there. The audacity of the poachers knows no limits. At an altitude of 2,000 metres above sea level the guards also found a mattock and a shovel," Juraj Švajda from the TANAP administration authority said to TASR news agency.
He said that the marmot colonies from the area of western Tatras have been monitored for the second year now in cooperation with the Slovak nature protection and spelunking museum.
In the area from Sivý vrch to Ostrý Roháč more than 10,000 marmot burrows and almost 70 so-called mother burrows, where young marmots were discovered, have been registered so far.
As a result of the monitoring the experts will prepare digital maps showing the habitat areas of the mountain marmots, which will enable a more detailed analysis of the number of the mother burrows including deserted and newly discovered marmot colonies. The programme for saving the marmot was officially approved by Slovakia's Environment Ministry in December 2003.
But apart from protected animals, the poachers are also interested in precious plants that grow in the mountains.
"The TANAP administration has already dealt with several cases when the roots of protected plants were dug out from the ground. With regards to the value of these protected species the police already launched proceedings and charged persons with transgressing the plants and animal protection law," said Švajda.


Liešťany
Thief takes money from chocolate box

A THIEF stole Sk139,000 (€3,580) hidden in a chocolate box.
The box was in the bedroom of a house belonging to a woman from the village of Liešťany in western Slovakia's Prievidza district, the TASR news agency wrote.
The chocolate box thief also took another Sk14,000 (€360) that the woman had stored in an envelope.
Police immediately started investigating the case.


Nové Zámky
Women learn self-defence

THE TOWN police force in Nové Zámky is offering free lessons in self-defence for women, the daily SME wrote.
Five policemen will train women in the basic techniques of self-defence. The courses have already attracted around 40 applicants, from students to women in their 50s.
"I applied for preventive reasons. I want to know how to defend myself [from attackers]," said student Martina Zimová.
The police chief Róbert Major said that the self-defence techniques will be useful for women in the case of physical attacks, particularly if they are coming back from work walking through dark streets and alleys.
He said that there have been cases when attackers kicked women to the ground and took their money or other precious objects. The self-defence will also help women protect themselves from possible domestic violence.
"In this course women will learn the easier self-defence techniques that are made for women. They come from karate, judo, and jujitsu. The exercises take 90 minutes per week and participants can manage the basics within three years. It is one form of prevention," said Major.
This year there have been eight cases of robbery and 24 thefts in the area in which women were targeted.


A FRACTION of the 500 graceful storks that gathered at Košice.
photo: Courtesy of SOVS




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