“I have three sons and ever since Klepetan landed in Malena’s nest, I have accepted him as my fourth”
For the last 25 years Stjepan Vokić has been taking care of Malena, a stork with a broken wing, and for the past 15 years they have been jointly expecting her stork partner Klepetan from his journey back from Africa. Vokić has written an open letter to Lebanese President Aoun requesting his help in preventing the murder of migratory birds over Lebanon.
In the letter he warns of the fact that over 2 million migratory birds are killed in Lebanese skies each year, some for fun, some for sale. This was the fate of Croatian stork Tesla, who was tagged with a GPS device for scientific observation of bird migrations. On his way from South Africa Klepetan also crosses Lebanon and those 200 kilometres are his largest threat to a safe return to Brodski Varoš in the Croatian east.
Besides the letter, Vokić also sent the President a feather from Klepetan and asked him to, before Klepetan heads across Lebanon again this year, sign changes to the law to allow hunting from October when the migratory birds have crossed Lebanon.
At the same time a petition was begun online requesting Lebanon to do just that, for a tighter law on bird hunting and more active enactment of it in order to save hundreds of thousands of storks, cranes and other migratory birds who are preyed upon over that nation. You can join in and help change the law in Lebanon by signing this petition.
The video of Vokić’s address to President Aoun is available here:
and we bring you the entire letter below:
Dear President Aoun,
my name is Stjepan Vokić. People would describe me in countless different ways, but one thing all of them would say the same – that I am a man who loves animals more than I love myself. And they would be correct. A full 25 years ago, in my small village in Croatia, I found a small stork whose wing was shot by hunters. It was clear right away that she would never fly again, which means death for a migratory bird. I took her home in the hope of helping her somehow. I built a nest for her on the roof, and a winter dwelling in the garage so she may survive the cold winter days. I named her Malena (little one). As Malena cannot fly, I was her wings… hunting fish, collecting branches for her nest and helping her survive the long winters. Through the years I learned much about storks alongside Malena and realised how magnificent they are. One spring fifteen years ago, on his way back from Africa, the male stork Klepetan landed in her nest. Since then Malena and him have been inseparable. And from their nest so far 59 young storks have flown into the world. Klepetan leaves in the fall to South Africa to spend the winter, but returns to Malena at the end of March. And has done so for the past 15 years.
His 14.000 kilometre journey is wrought with danger and those dozen days while we wait impatiently for him are the most tense moments of my life. But when he appears in our courtyard and flies to the bucket of fish I prepare for him, there isn’t the money or wealth which could replace the happiness and joy in my heart. I have three sons and since Klepetan landed in Malena’s nest, I have accepted him as my fourth. The thought of him not making it back one spring frightens me more than anything. Although on his journey he is in danger from storms, thirst and hunger, the most dangerous part of his flight is the 200 kilometre long route across Lebanon.
Every year around 2 million migratory birds are killed on that route, some for fun, some for food, some for sale. This year that was the fate of Klepetan’s fellow flock member, stork Tesla, who was one of two Croatian storks tracked with GPS devices for scientific research as part of the project “SOS Stork Croatia,” which aims to identify the exact movement of migratory birds from our lands. Klepetan will head out this fall again on his journey to Africa and will cross Lebanon again. Unfortunately, I cannot go with him to keep him safe, but am sending this letter to you written with his feather, to ask of you and you esteemed position to do everything for the bird protection law to remain in force and be enacted as much as possible.
I also send Klepetan’s feather as I believe a feather is stronger than a sword. I hope you will use it before Klepetan flies south to sign the law which will make a change and save these wonderful creatures from merciless killing. In my nation there is a belief that storks bring children, a new life. These two storks are my entire life.
And you don’t have to believe in fairy tales and children’s stories, but you can believe in the fact that in Croatia every spring over a million people awaits for Klepetan through a live stream video and the moment of his return brings happiness and joy and reminds many of what love means. The story of my Klepetan is proof to all of us that love simply does not know limits. I also do not believe in fairy tales, but I believe in goodness and believe that nature remembers everything and pays back, and above all I believe in your humanity and good will and thus I am thankful in advance.
Malena, Klepetan and Stjepan Vokić