'Cops' of the Delta Reserve

THE members of the newly founded Guard and Inspection Corps are struggling barehanded to protect the flora and fauna of the Danube delta. The weapon they could use most right now is a law."Our biggest problem is that neither an environmental protection law, nor a law to regulate the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, exists," says Janos Botond Kis, the ornithologist who heads the corps. The corps was created in February to patrol the delta. It has 70 young locals trained in karate, two boats, and a computer at its disposal. But it has no cars, radios, or even mosquito repellent. When the guards want to make an arrest, they have to convince the local police to come along. The guards are paid the average Romanian wage: 6,000 lei ($30) a month. "I could be making 10,000 lei at a factory," says 23-year-old Cornelius Ionescu. "But I wouldn't be breathing fresh air. Anyway, I love the delta, and someone has to protect it." Mr. Kis hopes the young recruits will serve as guides and researchers in the future, banding birds instead of impounding illegal fishing nets. For now, however, he says they have to concentrate on policing the reserve. "We're in a period when people are hungry and unemployed," he says. "They have no environmental upbringing, so we have to teach them."

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