World Bird News January 2014

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Sudan 'killer line' disconnected

Sudan 'killer line' disconnected

By Julien.Jreissati, Thu, 30/01/2014 - 13:57

The notorious power line from Port Sudan to the Red Sea coast, which is estimated to have electrocuted hundreds and perhaps thousands of Endangered Egyptian Vultures Neophron percnopterus since its construction in the 1950s, has been switched off.

This decisive action by the Sudanese government and power company officials follows years of work by BSPB (BirdLife in Bulgaria), and BirdLife’s UNDP/GEF Migratory Soaring Birds (MSB) project and its local NGO partner, the Sudanese Wildlife Society (SWS).

The decision to decommission and replace the “killer line” followed a MSB-funded presentation to senior government and power company representatives by SWS President Professor Ibrahim Hashim, in March 2013. By September, work had begun on a new, fully-insulated distribution line running parallel to the existing line.

News that the power line had been turned off came during a visit to the Sudanese Transmission Electricity Co. Ltd by a team from the MSB Project, to introduce the MSB project’s guidance on birds and power lines alone the Rift Valley/Red Sea Flyway.Professor Ibrahim Hashim expressed his joy at the decision. “Egyptian Vultures and other raptors can now perch safely on this part of their migration”.
MSB Regional Project coordinator Osama Alnouri said: “This great achievement is the cumulative result of the work of BirdLife’s Bulgarian Partner in investigating and quantifying the threat to the Egyptian Vulture and other soaring birds, the targeted efforts of the MSB project and the Sudanese Wildlife Society, and the commitment of the Directors of Sudan’s Electricity Distribution and Transmission companies to solving this long-standing problem. We would also like to thank the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife and the Wildlife Conservation General Administration for their support.”

Mrs Nada Tosheva, executive-director of the BSPB commented: “This marvelous success of the BirdLife Partner in Bulgaria and the Migratory Soaring Birds project clearly demonstrates that for efficient conservation of long-distance migrants, like Egyptian Vultures and juvenile Eastern Imperial Eagles, the trans-continental collaboration within BirdLife network is crucial.”

“This great news shows the effectiveness of how the BirdLife Partnership works together with governments and industry. Acting locally on a global scale enables us to tackle huge issues like migratory bird conservation. Many congratulations to all involved”, said Dr Marco Lambertini, BirdLife’s Chief Executive.

Strange looking bird makes welcome reappearance

By Martin Fowlie, Thu, 23/01/2014 - 09:55

One of the world’s least known (and frankly, strangest looking) birds has been photographed on the Samoan island of Savai’i by researchers.

The sighting of the young Tooth-billed Pigeon Didunculus strigirostris, by a team from the the Samoan Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), is the first confirmed sighting in almost a decade.

Tooth-billed Pigeon or Manumea, as it is locally known, is endemic to Samoa and is the country’s national bird. BirdLife lists it as Endangered due to its small, fragmented range and population. It has declined rapidly over the last 20 years as a result of hunting and habitat loss. However, the lack of recent records may mean its status needs to be reassessed.
Moeumu Uili, who is leading the team of researchers with funding from the Conservation Leadership Programme, tells the story from the 9th December:

“"One of the team, Fialelei, went outside to hang his wet clothes on the line. He heard a noise that attracted his attention. He looked up the tree and saw a bird sitting up high on one of the tree branches. We got our binoculars and camera and started searching for the hooked bill which is the bird’s distinguishing feature. I started taking as many pictures as I could before the bird flew off. A closer look using binoculars and we knew we had found it, the rare Manumea. Everyone had questioned whether the bird still existed. Now we know it is still alive.”"

The next step for the researchers is to survey Samoa’s southern island, Upolu, where some anecdotal reports have been collected. More fieldwork is needed to get the full picture, they say.

“The MNRE has been very concerned for this species. It’s a great relief that, with support for training and funding through CLP they have undertaken these surveys and had such a positive outcome. Now to work out what we can do to save the species”, said Mark O’Brien, BirdLife’s Senior Conservation Officer in the Pacific.

Panama Bay saved from destruction

By Martin Fowlie, Thu, 09/01/2014 - 09:26

There’s been a great start to 2014 for one of the most important sites for migratory waterbirds in the Americas.

The Panama Supreme Court has issued the long-awaited final decision on the The Bay of Panama, This ruling, on the legality of the administrative decision that created the wetland protected area, basically means a reprieve from destructive development. The Supreme Court has reinstated the protected status for the Bay of Panama wetlands, removing the temporary suspension it had placed on the protected area a year ago.

“Good use of environmental law and scientific studies, and the help of our local and international partners have influenced the final decision of the court”, said Rosabel Miró, Executive Director of Panama Audubon Society, the country’s BirdLife Partner.

“This court ruling will certainly help us to affect the proper implementation of environmental laws in other protected areas of the country that currently face similar to the Bay of Panama threats.”

The Bay of Panama is one of the five most important stopover and wintering areas for migratory shorebirds in the entire Americas, with more than 30% of the global population of Western Sandpiper and 22% of the global population of Whimbrel.

Its extensive mangrove forests play a vital role in supporting fisheries, filtering pollutants in urban and agricultural runoff, and protecting Panama City from floods. The Mangroves and wetlands of Panama Bay are also vital to other globally threatened wildlife including Jaguar, Tapir, Spider Monkey, American Crocodile, and Loggerhead Turtle.

“Panama Audubon Society spearheaded the public outcry against this decision, and working with local and international partners, successfully organised environmental, trade, business and community groups to collectively voice the importance of conserving the Bay's wetlands”, said Dr Hazella Shokellu Thompson, BirdLife’s Director for Partnership, Capacity and Communities.

“Congratulations to Panama Audubon Society and all involved.”

The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | World Bird News | World Bird News 2014 |  World Bird News January 2014

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