World Bird News December 2006

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Satellite-tracking reveals new migration route for Lesser White-fronts


Further light has been shed on the migratory movements of the highly-threatened population of Fennoscandian Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythropus, as a result of on-going satellite tracking studies financed with an EU-LIFE grant. The project, coordinated by WWF-Finland, involves Norsk Ornitologisk Forening, NOF (BirdLife in Norway), BirdLife Finland and Hellenic Ornithological Society, HOS (BirdLife in Greece).
'Satellite tracking has provided a lot of new valuable information on the routes of the geese,' said Ingar Jostein Øien of NOF.
Previous satellite tracking studies had shown that the Fennoscandian population had two different migratory routes, but the final destination for some of the population was largely unknown. In this early study, satellite-tracking showed that the main flyway for the geese went from their breeding area in the Fennoscandian mountains, through the Kanin Peninsula in Russia, south through eastern Hungary and finally to wintering grounds in the Evros River Delta, on the border of Greece and Turkey.
Some Fennoscandian Lesser White-fronts were found to take a different route from the Kanin Peninsula on to northern Kazakhstan but then on to unknown wintering grounds. It was assumed that this part of the Fennoscandian population migrated further south to the Caspian Sea region and possibly into the Mesopotamian Marshes of Iraq.
However, the new satellite tracking results from three Lesser White-fronted Geese tagged this year in Norway show that, on the contrary, these two flyways are not separate - the birds rejoined with the other Lesser White-fronts in northern Greece after undertaking an impressive ‘loop-migration’ via the Russian Taimyr Peninsula in northern Siberia, northern Kazakhstan and the Black Sea.With this improved understanding of the flyways, several BirdLife Partners are now co-operating on the EU-LIFE project, working together to secure stopover sites along the migratory route of the geese.
'Studies like this bring to light the importance of organisations working together when conserving migratory birds” said Yannis Tsougrakis of HOS (BirdLife in Greece). “Finding new routes and information on stopover sites gives us the tools to start conserving the sites on which these birds may depend.'
The international project team recently visited the wintering grounds in Greece and had the opportunity to observe Finn and Nieida, the satellite tagged pair, in a flock of 42 Lesser White-fronted Geese at Lake Kerkini. Imre, the other adult goose that was equipped with a satellite transmitter last spring, was shot during the last days of October in the Volgograd region, Russia.
After historical declines, this small Fennoscandian population of geese in Norway, Sweden and Finland is now down to just 20-30 breeding pairs. Illegal hunting is now considered the single most important threat to the population. The project is building up a co-operation with FACE (the Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation of the EU) to help tackle this problem.
The results of this study build on previous information gathered during the ‘Fennoscandian Lesser White-fronted Goose Conservation Project’, jointly run by NOF (BirdLife in Norway) and WWF-Finland. The project was the first to use satellite tracking techniques as a means to improve knowledge and understanding of the migration routes that this population uses.
You can follow the satellite tracking and view recent observations at the 'Portal to the Lesser White-fronted Goose' Click here

New breeding colony of Chinese Egrets found

An important new breeding colony of around 100 pairs of Chinese Egrets Egretta eulophotes has been discovered off the Shandong coast of China, thanks to seabird survey work funded by a British Birdwatching Fair/RSPB Research Fund for Endangered Birds grant.
Researchers Qiao Yi-lun and Liu Yang of the Beijing Bird Watching Society came across the egrets amongst large breeding colonies of Black-tailed Gulls Larus crassirostris on the tiny (13.2 ha) island of Hailü Dao, which lies 1.6 km north-east of Rongcheng City, Shangdong. Images of the adult birds, their nests, eggs and chicks were recorded. According to local people, the egrets first nested on the island in 2001 and have been increasing in numbers ever since.
Chinese Egrets breed only on small offshore islands in Russia, the Korean peninsula and mainland China, and winter in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines and elsewhere in South-East Asia.
With a world population estimated at 2,600–3,400 pairs, the species is classified as Vulnerable. The new colony represents a significant percentage of this total, indicating the significant conservation value of the island, which is a famous location amongst wildlife photographers.
Although currently unprotected, egg collecting is strictly prohibited on Hailü Dao, and there are no permanent settlements on the island.

Conservationists unite in Piping Plover lawsuit

A coalition of leading conservation groups in Canada have filed a lawsuit against the Canadian Environment Minister for her ministry's refusal to identify critical habitat in the recovery strategy of Piping Plover.
Nature Canada (BirdLife in Canada), together with other national conservation organisations, state that the federal government is failing to adequately implement the Species at Risk Act by not identifying critical habitat in recovery planning documents for Piping Plover.
Piping Plover Charadrius melodus is listed as Near-Threatened by BirdLife International, the official Red List Authority for birds for the IUCN Red List. In recent years crucial habitat for plover is thought to have faced increased pressures as a result of drought, inappropriate water and beach management and from gas and oil industry dredging.
"It comes down to a choice between recovery or extinction." -Julie Gelfand, President of Nature Canada
Loss or degradation of habitat is the single greatest cause of all species endangerment in Canada but the Species at Risk Act protects habitat only if it is identified. Though the Piping Plover strategy cites a lack of knowledge as the basis for not identifying critical habitat, the groups say this is false.
'In the United States critical habitat for Piping Plover has been identified using much the same information as exists in Canada,” argued Candace Batycki of ForestEthics, one of the conservation organisations involved in the coalition. 'The case of the Piping Plover illustrates a federal government unwilling to enforce the Act, especially where it impacts provincial jurisdiction.'
The lawsuit was filed as leaders from across Canada gathered this week for the first Minister's Round Table under the Species at Risk Act.
"Three years after the Species at Risk Act came into force, the federal government is failing to fulfil its duty of care toward our nation's wildlife," said Julie Gelfand, President of Nature Canada. "The most important element of the Act - identification and protection of critical habitat - isn't being implemented. It comes down to a choice between recovery or extinction."

Bio-fuel less sustainable than realised

Bio-fuel is often more polluting than energy from fossil fuel sources. The rapidly increasing use of palm oil is one of the driving forces behind this. Production of palm oil in South East Asian plantations degrades huge peatland areas. The large amounts of carbon dioxide being emitted due to this degradation makes the use of palm oil many times more polluting than burning oil or coal.
These conclusions were drawn from new research by the NGO Wetlands International, amongst others.
About a quarter of palm oil originates from drained peatlands, which were tropical peat swamps until recently. In a good year approximately 3 to 6 tonne of palm oil is produced per hectare. Drainage of peatland results in very rapid peat decomposition, causing emissions of 70 up to 100 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year per hectare. The production of one tonne of palm oil therefore results in carbon dioxide emissions of up to 33 tonnes. By comparison: the amount of fossil fuel needed to generate the same quantity of energy as one tonne of palm oil results in the emission of 3 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Hence, even when you exclude emissions for factors that go hand in hand with production, such as transport and fertilization, the emissions when using palm oil are at least 10 times higher than when coal or mineral oil is used.
The palm oil plantations also contribute to the drainage of the surrounding lands cape. Every year the extensively drained peatlands in Indonesia suffer from long-lasting fires that cover hundreds of thousands or even millions of hectares of peatland, resulting in further increase of carbon dioxide emissions. This indirectly makes the emissions caused by palm oil cultivation even worse.
Due to the rapidly increasing demand for palm oil, the remaining South East Asian peatlands are currently being logged at high speed and converted into plantations. According to calculations from Delft Hydraulics, degraded peatlands in South East Asia produce 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year due to peatland oxidation and peatland fires, which is equivalent to almost 8% of the total global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels. These enormous emissions take place on 12 million hectares of degraded peatlands, equivalent to 0.2% of the total global surface.
Europe imports a lot of palm oil, mostly for use as a bio-fuel. The European Union and countries like the Netherlands support this development with legislation and subsidies. Some of these same countries promote peatland conservation and restoration. Wetlands International supports the use of bio-fuels as an alternative to fossil fuels. But we believe that to ensure environmental sustainability, subsidies on palm oil, as provided by some import countries, should be stopped until the sector stops the conversion and drainage of former peatland forests, invests in restoration of peatland areas and works with a clear certification scheme that makes it possible to distinguish between palm oil originating from peatlands and other palm oil.

'Tragedy' for Cerulean Warbler

The National Audubon Society (BirdLife in the U.S.) and 28 other organizations have expressed grave concerns over the future of the Cerulean Warbler following the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) not to list the songbird as a threatened species. The Cerulean Warbler is Red-listed as Vulnerable by BirdLife International, the official Red List Authority for birds for the IUCN Red List.

The announcement follows six years of campaigning and petitioning by the organisations involved, during which time the FWS have been accused of missing numerous deadlines required under the Endangered Species Act.

Cerulean Warbler population in the U.S. has dropped almost 82 percent throughout the last 40 years, making it the fastest declining warbler in the country. The rate of decline has quickened and the threats to its survival, particularly from mountain removal mining, have worsened while the groups’ petition has been pending before the FWS.

“The birding community is greatly concerned because the Cerulean has been declining throughout its range for such a long period of time,' said Greg Butcher, Ph.D., Director of Bird Conservation with Audubon.

“The birding community is greatly concerned because the Cerulean has been declining throughout its range for such a long period of time,' - Greg Butcher, Ph.D. , Director of Bird Conservation with Audubon

Since the petition was filed, new information has come to light about the increasing loss and fragmentation of the Cerulean’s eastern forest habitat from mountaintop removal mining. This form of surface mining is expected to increase dramatically in the core of the Cerulean Warbler’s range where the bird has already suffered population declines of up to 80 percent.

The National Audubon Society and other conservation groups have vowed to continue efforts to protect Cerulean Warbler, including a possible legal challenge to the decision.

As well as facing threats to their North American breeding grounds, migrants like Cerulean Warbler also face threats to wintering grounds in the Neotropics to the south of the Tropic of Cancer. For one third of these ‘Neotropical migrants’, their wintering range and/or important stopover sites lie within one of the most biodiverse yet threatened areas on the planet.

New report gives direction to IBA conservation in Kenya

A report from NatureKenya (BirdLife in Kenya) sheds new light on the changing challenges and pressures facing the conservation of Important Bird Areas (IBAs). Results from ‘Kenya’s Important Bird Areas: Status and Trends’ highlight in particular, the threat of overgrazing and illegal logging to the protection of IBAs in East Africa.

This is the first time that African IBAs have been monitored and the results have given a valuable insight into the issues that surround wildlife conservation in East Africa. Two threats of particular concern were found to be overgrazing and illegal grazing - both of which were deemed a serious threat to 57% (34 out of 60) of the IBAs in Kenya.

Illegal selective logging and vegetation destruction were also widespread issues -55% of all IBA sites in Kenya highlighted the ‘serious threat’ that this had to site conservation. Of the 22 forest IBA sites in Kenya, 16 reported that tree logging and pole-cutting posed threats to IBAs. Another frequently cited threat was firewood collection; deemed a threat to 43% of IBAs.

'Many IBAs in Africa face similar threats, but our results hint that these threats are reversible,'said Paul Matiku, Executive Director, NatureKenya. 'The state of our IBAs has not changed dramatically between 2004 and 2005. Indeed, in some cases, pressure may have reduced slightly; often a result of the hard work that NatureKenya and its Partners, particularly in the relevant government departments, have been putting on educating, monitoring and building local constituencies for conservation, in particular the Site Support Groups'

'Finding out more about our IBAs and the issues that surround their conservation has allowed us to ‘keep stock’ of our IBAs, and to focus our efforts where they’re needed" 'Hazell Shokellu Thompson, Head of BirdLife’s Africa Partnership Secretariat

Site Support Groups (SSGs) are independent groups of volunteers that promote conservation and sustainable development at an IBA. SSG members were among the many groups consulted during the preparation of ‘Kenya’s Important Bird Areas: Status and Trends 2005’ report. Data were also obtained by monitoring forms retrieved from employees of the Forest Department and Kenya Wildlife Service as well as IBA fieldworkers and researchers from the National Museums of Kenya.

'The results from our work on IBAs in Kenya have given us a basis on which we can build,' said Enock Kanyanya, IBA Programme Manager, Nature Kenya. 'Discovering that firewood collection is a widespread threat allows people, governments, and other BirdLife Partners in Africa, to further invest in solutions' .

As a result of the study Nature Kenya are now focusing on the development of environmentally safe alternatives to firewood collection which, alongside government subsidies, can be used by local communities without the need for depleting forests, an important resource for livelihoods. These alternatives include encouraging local communities to plant woodlots of fast growing trees at home for the supply of firewood and building purposes. Many of these actions have been promoted and implemented alongside the ‘Kenya Forest Act (2005)’ - a government response that has lead to a moratorium on harvesting and transporting timber.

'IBAs are valuable places for birds and many other groups of species; not least for people and their livelihoods. said Hazell Shokellu Thompson, Head of BirdLife’s Africa Partnership Secretariat. 'Finding out more about our IBAs and the issues that surround their conservation has allowed us to ‘keep stock’ of our IBAs, and to focus our efforts where they’re needed - most often by working with local people and communities."

'Lost' woodpecker reappears

One of Brazil’s most enigmatic birds has reappeared after an absence of 80 years. The news of the rediscovery of Caatinga Woodpecker Celeus obrieni has delighted conservationists in the region and gives hope for other ‘lost’ birds feared extinct in South America.
Caatinga Woodpecker was found by a Brazilian ornithologist Advaldo do Prado whilst surveying in the Tocantins region of Central Brazil. This enigmatic species had not been observed since its initial discovery in 1926.

Rediscovering birds is what many conservationists dream about,” said Pedro Develey IBA Coordinator of SAVE Brasil (BirdLife in Brazil), There is something truly special about finding a bird that many of us considered ‘lost’ for so long.

The woodpecker was previously known only from a single specimen collected in Brazil and deposited in the American Museum of Natural History, New York. The specimen was traditionally considered a subspecies of Rufous-headed Woodpecker C. spectabilis also from South America. It wasn’t until a recent review by ornithologists involved with the South American Classification Committee of the American Ornithologists' Union concluded that dramatic differences in the plumage of Caatinga Woodpecker warranted full species status.
There is something truly special about finding a bird that many of us considered ‘lost’ for so long.Pedro Develey , IBA Coordinator of SAVE Brasil (BirdLife in Brazil)
The new discovery was found approximately 200 miles east of the area where the previous specimen was taken in 1926, suggesting to conservationists that other individuals may lie in similar habitats in the eastern part of Central Brazil. BirdLife International, the official Red List Authority for birds for the IUCN Red List, are to formally propose that Caatinga Woodpecker be listed as Critically Endangered.

Rediscoveries like this allow us crucial opportunities for understanding behaviour, ecology and for gauging conservation status with a view to creating protected areas within the Tocantins, a region that has suffered in recent years with expansion of agriculture and new road projects.said Pedro Develey.

The new finding comes in the wake of a number of recent bird rediscoveries in Brazil including Golden-crowned Manakin, Rufous-fronted Antthrush, White-winged Potoo, Kaempfer’s Tody-tyrant and most recently, Cone-billed Tanager.

Caatinga Woodpecker and rediscoveries like it provide hope for other South American birds currently missing and feared extinct, some of which haven’t been seen for over 150 years.” said Stuart Butchart, Global Species Coordinator, BirdLife International and co-author of ‘Lost and Found: a gap analysis for the Neotropical avifauna’, a recent article on the rediscovery of ‘lost’ birds.

Data from BirdLife International’s Global Species Programme states that Brazil has more globally threatened birds than any other country on earth. Of the 111 species at risk of extinction in Brazil, 98 live in the Atlantic forest, which has been reduced by more than 90% of its original extent.

Clampdown for Grey Parrot trade


CITES, the international Convention governing trade in threatened species, has recommended a two-year ban from January 2007 on exports of Grey Parrots Psittacus erithacus from four West African countries (Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea), where the distinctive (sub)species timneh is found, and two Central African countries (Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea), where the more widespread (sub)species erithacus occurs. Only two countries— Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo—should be permitted to continue exporting Grey Parrots after January 2007, although their quotas should be halved to 4,000 and 5,000 birds respectively.

There is ample evidence Grey Parrot numbers in the wild are declining through unsustainable exploitation." Dr Hazell Shokellu Thompson , Head of BirdLife’s Africa Division

The meeting in Lima, Peru, also called for monitoring of parrots in trade, surveys of wild populations, and development of National and Regional Management Plans. The plans will need to tackle illegal trade in Grey Parrots and establish ways to prevent export quotas being exceeded.

BirdLife welcomes the export bans and quota reductions,” said Dr Hazell Shokellu Thompson, Head of BirdLife’s Africa Division. There is ample evidence Grey Parrot numbers in the wild are declining through unsustainable exploitation. BirdLife Partners across Africa will assist national governments wherever possible with parrot surveys and monitoring so that scientifically justified decisions can be taken about the levels of sustainable trade permissible.”

The recommendations were made following a Significant Trade Review for Grey Parrot, carried out by BirdLife International at CITES’s request, which found that unsustainable numbers of birds are being traded, the majority of them destined for Europe. Earlier, BirdLife African Partners at their annual Partnership meeting (CAP) had agreed to collaborate on improving the conservation status of Grey Parrot.

Wildlife trade is big business. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) aims to protect species from the detrimental effects of international trade by establishing an international legal framework for preventing or controlling trade.

Largest White-shouldered Ibis flock recorded

Record numbers of the Critically Endangered White-shouldered Ibis have been recorded at two sites in Cambodia, giving conservationists further hope for the survival of the species and renewed calls for further protection of its key habitats.
This month BirdLife’s Cambodia Programme Office and staff from the Wildlife Protection Office (WPO) recorded a staggering 108 birds at two sites in western Siem Pang District in Stung Treng Province, Cambodia.
At the first site, 28 birds were recorded in trees by forest wetlands known locally as trapeangs. Later that day, at another site in the southern part of the district, 80 birds were seen coming in to roost – this is the largest flock of White-shouldered Ibis ever recorded. In 2005 BirdLife and the WPO recorded 70 White-shouldered Ibis at wetlands in western Siem Pang. The recent sightings confirm the international importance of Siem Pang for the ibis. The global population of White-shouldered Ibis was previously estimated at just 250 mature individuals.

On the available evidence, western Siem Pang District is the single most important site in the world for the White-shouldered Ibis." Jonathan Eames, Programme Manager for BirdLife International in Indochina
This is great news for the White-shouldered Ibis” said Prich Phirun, WPO/BirdLife Project Officer, Because the two sites are so far apart, we think there is almost no chance of double-counting.
The White-shouldered Ibis Pseudibis davisoni is a large ibis which inhabits trapeangs and slow-flowing watercourses in open lowland dry dipterocarp forest, often subject to seasonal flooding. The reasons for population declines are not well understood.
On the available evidence, western Siem Pang District is the single most important site in the world for the White-shouldered Ibis. BirdLife believes that the establishment of a Protected Forest would be the best first course of action for the conservation of this species. said Jonathan Eames, Programme Manager for BirdLife International in Indochina.

BirdLife is working with relevant government departments to secure western Siem Pang as a protected forest. Ongoing work with local communities aims to improve monitoring of wildlife populations and to encourage the management of trapeangs in western Siem Pang; a practice which has potential to benefit local people and communities, as well as wildlife.
White-shouldered Ibis - BirdLife Species Factsheet

Aquatic Warbler given LIFE-line


A significant step has been taken toward the protection of key habitat for Europe’s rarest songbird. OTOP (BirdLife Poland) is embarking on a large-scale project to protect key sites for the Globally Threatened Aquatic Warbler in Poland and neighbouring Germany.

The OTOP project - which is funded by the EU LIFE Nature Fund and also supported by the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) – aims to promote Aquatic Warbler-friendly management of 42,000 hectares (approximately 160 square miles) of fen and wet meadow, mostly in Poland, but also in a small part of Germany. For this area, suitable management plans will be developed and agreed with the local landusers. Of this, an area of about 3,000 ha will be restored as the project progresses. Where necessary, OTOP will also purchase land in key areas.

News of the project represents a significant step toward the protection of the legendary Biebrza Marshes in Northeast Poland, which are one of the focus areas of this project. OTOP has secured the purchase of the first parcels of land in what is planned to become a very valuable place for birds, local people and visitors.

“The wildlife of the Biebrza Marshes is incredibly important and distinctive. Four out of five of all the European Union’s aquatic warblers occur here, as well as around half of the EU’s greater spotted eagles, along with great snipe, elk and beaver.” said Izabela Flor, Chief Executive of OTOP.

"The wildlife of the Biebrza Marshes is incredibly important and distinctive." —Izabela Flor, Chief Executive of OTOP

Commenting on the news, the RSPB’s chief executive, Graham Wynne, said: “We are delighted that we can support this project with RSPB funds, to help ensure that this bird has a secure future in its European stronghold“

The threatened Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola is thought to have declined significantly in Europe as a result of loss of suitable fen mire habitat – an estimated 95% of habitat has been lost in the last century.

The project represents new ground for both of the BirdLife Partners involved. For the RSPB, it represents their first contribution to overseas land purchase. For OTOP, the project is also new ground; as a recent member of the EU, they have access to EU LIFE Funds, a vital resource for conservation in EU member states.

"Since joining the European Union in 2004 there have been new challenges to wildlife conservation in Poland like intensive agriculture, but alongside this there are more opportunities like the EU LIFE

Paraguayan IBA receives protection


Guyra Paraguay (BirdLife in Paraguay) is celebrating news of the complete protection of over 9,500 hectares of seasonal wetland in the Paraguayan Pantanal, an area which forms part of one of the country’s 57 Important Bird Areas (IBAs). The announcement was made at a reception attended by the Vice-President of Paraguay, the Minister of Environment, as well as many representatives from the Diplomatic Corps.
Protecting this site is a fantastic achievement.said Alberto Yanosky, Guyra Paraguay Executive Director. Its value for biodiversity has been long-recognised; now we’ve been given a chance to conserve it.

The declaration represents years of hard work by Guyra Paraguay and the World Land Trust, which contributed most of the funds required for the purchase of the land through the negotiation of a number of donations from private trusts, as well as the IUCN National Committee for the Netherlands. Five key areas have been purchased and set aside for the Nature Reserve, equating in all to a US $250,000 investment.

World Land Trust
Over 9500 hectares of seasonal wetland will be protected under the new announcement.
Zoom In
“The Pantanal's value for biodiversity has been long-recognised; now we’ve been given a chance to conserve it.” —Alberto Yanosky, Guyra Paraguay Executive Director

The Pantanal is one of South America’s key ecosystems, being flooded seasonally by freshwater from the central Brazilian highlands. Situated in the upper watershed of the Paraguay river, to the south of the Amazon basin and east of the Andes, the area represents the most extensive freshwater wetland in the world.

“The reserve area was chosen for its rich wildlife, and also for the fact that, despite being designated as part of a biosphere reserve, it remained in private ownership, without any formal protection.” said John Burton, Chief Executive Officer of the World Land Trust.

In 2005, the Paraguayan Pantanal was designated an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Guyra Paraguay/BirdLife International based on its importance for congregations of waterbirds and regionally endemic bird species.

As well as being important for birds, the Pantanal IBA also represents crucial habitat for a number of other species. Over 300 species of fish, 40 amphibians, 55 reptiles, 120 mammals and 2,000 species of plant are known to exist there. All will be protected within the boundaries of the site.

News of the area’s protection builds on achievements made by local people and communities in involving themselves in conservation activities within the Pantanal IBA. In 2003, young people from the neighbouring community of Puerto Bahía Negra, created ‘EcoClub Pantanal Paraguay’ – a community-based Site-Support Group (SSG) that has been involved in surveys and organised bird-watching camps for others living nearby. Notable achievements of this SSG include the establishment of a community radio station – the first of its kind in the area, funded by the World Bank development marketplace, through a proposal presented by Guyra Paraguay.

“Encouraging interest and involvement from local communities is the important next step." —Jose Luis Cartes, Site Program Manager at Guyra Paraguay

To further mark the educational value of the newly-protected area, a proposed visitor lodge will provide research facilities for scientists from both Paraguay and worldwide.

“Encouraging interest and involvement from local communities is the important next step. The Eco-Club has shown a demonstrated leadership and they are communicating the value of our biodiversity.” said Jose Luis Cartes, Site Program Manager at Guyra Paraguay. “The joint work of the Eco-Club and Guyra Paraguay are key for the conservation of this remote, newly-protected area.”

The Government of Paraguay has also declared its intention to allow expansion of boundaries around the nearby Rio Negro National Park, to link sites up with other protected areas, including the Pantanal IBA.

“These proposed expansion areas are what we at Guyra Paraguay are now working towards for further conservation.” said Alberto Yanosky, Guyra Paraguay Executive Director. “We’re working to show a clear and joint-initiative with the Government to provide alternatives that allow us to conserve our unique biodiversity for future generations.”

BirdLife’s Important Bird Areas (IBA) Programme has been a particularly effective way of identifying conservation priorities. Since IBAs are identified, monitored and protected by national and local organisations and individuals, working on the ground, the IBA Programme can be a powerful way to build national institutional capacity and to set an effective conservation agenda.

Albatross deaths prompt action from New Zealand


The New Zealand government is considering imposing a temporary ban on surface longline fishing in the Kermadec Islands after a fishing vessel was reported to have killed 51 albatrosses in a single trip. Conservationists hope the ban will give the government time to implement mitigation techniques in the fishery, to reduce levels of seabird bycatch.

Most of the birds killed by the fishing vessel were thought to be Antipodean Albatross, a Vulnerable species that only breeds in New Zealand waters.

"I don't want another incident like this occurring, so I am proposing immediate action under emergency provisions in the Fisheries Act." said Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton.

Forest & Bird (BirdLife in New Zealand) has publicly supported these urgent measures.

“We applaud the measures proposed by the minister and urge him to fully implement them to ensure this globally threatened albatross species is protected.” said Kirsty Knowles, Forest & Bird Conservation Advocate. “The number of seabirds, including Antipodean Albatross, killed by this vessel is a major concern and at a level that can only be described as needless slaughter.”

Tony Palliser
Many of the bycatches were thought to be Antipodean Albatross.
Zoom In
The number of seabirds, including Antipodean Albatross, killed by this vessel is a major concern..." Kirsty Knowles, Forest & Bird Conservation Advocate

A Ministry of Fisheries report recently showed that the Australian-registered vessel, Seawin Emerald, fishing for swordfish in the Kermadec fishery in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), caught 58 seabirds as bycatch, including seven petrels and 51 albatrosses.

Photographs taken by an observer on the vessel show that “a number” of the albatross killed were globally threatened Antipodean Albatross, but because the birds were not brought on board as required, the exact number killed was not known.

The Antipodean Albatross Diomedea antipodensis is endemic to New Zealand and is a globally threatened species - 19 of the world’s 21 albatross species are globally threatened with extinction and an estimated 100,000 albatrosses are killed annually by longlining.

" to reducing albatross bycatch are simple and easy to apply on fishing boats and the challenge is to apply them everywhere to avert such random destruction." Dr Ben Sullivan , BirdLife’s Global Seabird Coordinator

Last month, a report by CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) highlighted the positive effect that international regulation can have on reducing levels of seabird bycatch. After a range of mitigation measures were put in place in the legal Antarctic toothfish longline fishery, seabird deaths went from several thousand in the mid-1990s to zero albatross deaths in the 2005/06 season. This success was attributed to a number of actions put in place: closing fisheries during the breeding season, setting lines at night (because albatrosses feed by day), using line weighting and 100% observer coverage.

"The large number of albatrosses killed during this one fishing trip in the Kermadec Islands underlines the importance of effective and well-enforced action to prevent albatrosses getting caught on longlines, said Dr Ben Sullivan, BirdLife’s Global Seabird Coordinator. "It is heartening that swift action is being taken in this case to address what is clearly a serious breach of best practice, and it sends out a powerful signal: solutions to reducing albatross bycatch are simple and easy to apply on fishing boats and the challenge is to apply them everywhere to avert such random destruction."

Cherry-picked for conservation award


A study developed by SAVE Brasil (BirdLife in Brazil) on one of the rarest birds in the world, the Critically Endangered Cherry-throated Tanager, was awarded first place in the regional prize for environmental advancement, the ‘Prêmio Ecologia 2006’.

The Prize was organized by the state government of Espírito Santo to recognize and foster environmental studies, projects, activities and works developed by individuals, NGOs and companies, contributing to the social, economic and cultural development of the Espírito Santo state. The awarded study has been important to understand some key aspects of Cherry-throated Tanager ecology, foraging behaviour and their association with other bird species within canopy mixed flocks. The researchers are also working on a species population census that will feed into conservation priorities for the region.

“This prize is important because it will raise the Environment State Secretariat awareness of the relevance of conserving the unique Atlantic Forest site where Cherry-throated Tanager occur” said Pedro Develey, IBA Coordinator of SAVE Brasil.

The Cherry-throated Tanager is one of Brazil’s most enigmatic birds. First described at the end of the 19th century from the State of Minas Gerais, it was not seen again until a single sighting in 1941. Since then many researchers considered it extinct when, more than forty years later in 1998, it was rediscovered in small numbers at Fazenda Pindobas IV by researchers Ana Cristina Venturini, Claudia Bauer, Fernando Pacheco and Pedro Paz. In September 2003, small numbers were also discovered in the Caetés region. The species is classified by BirdLife as Critically Endangered.

“This prize is important because it will raise awareness of the relevance of conserving the unique Atlantic Forest site where Cherry-throated Tanager occur” —Pedro Develey, IBA Coordinator of SAVE Brasil

The awarded research by SAVE Brasil, entitled ‘Cherry-throated Tanager Nemosia rourei ecology in the Atlantic Forest of the montane region of the Espírito Santo state’, was led by Pedro Develey, IBA (Important Bird Area) Coordinator of SAVE Brasil, and developed in partnership with the researchers Ana Venturini, Pedro Paz and José Almir Jacomelli Jr. The study, expected to be concluded in January 2007, was initiated in August 2005 with the support of the Brazilian Foundation Fundação O Boticário de Proteção à Natureza and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF).

To move from science to conservation action, data provided to BirdLife is turned into information and targets, and are used to influence the policies and decisions of governments, the corporate sector, other NGOs and society itself. Inter-governmental conventions on the environment are one important area where BirdLife can make a real difference.

The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | World Bird News | World Bird News 2006 |  World Bird News December 2006

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