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French director abandons film project after giving wild flamingos a fright
A French director said on Monday he would abandon filming at a Mediterranean wetlands after a pilot sparked a panic among a huge flock of pink flamingos, causing hundreds of them to abandon their eggs.
The pilot of an ultralight aircraft was scouting locations for Nicolas Vanier's film Give Me Wings in the Camargues region this month when he zeroed in on the only wild flock of flamingos in France.
"A flight plan had indeed been given to the pilot indicating the precise areas to avoid," Vanier told the AFP news agency, adding that the operator was not directly employed by his production company.
"They wanted to have some fun by making the birds scatter -- I was outraged," he said.
The France Nature Environnement association filed a complaint for damage to a protected species, saying the disruptions during the key brooding season led one of every 10 pairs to abandon their nests.
"The presence of this emblematic species... required the utmost precautions to be taken," the association said.
"Five hundred pairs of the 4,500 in the colony definitively abandoned their egg," it said.
Vanier, also a writer and adventurer known for films including Wolf and The Last Trapper, offered to make amends by sponsoring a flamingo flock and inviting environmental groups to help present the film and use it for educational purposes.
That apparently wasn't enough to settle the controversy, and Vanier said he would finish filming his new movie -- about a scientist's passion for wild geese -- in Norway.