World Bird News November 2006

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

Cambodia announces protection of Bengal Florican habitat

22-11-2006

The Government of Cambodia has made a significant step towards protecting important habitat for the Bengal Florican Eupodotis bengalensis. In an effort to save this Endangered flagship species from extinction, more than one hundred miles of grassland habitat is to be set aside as Integrated Farming and Biodiversity Areas (IFBAs).

Restricted to tiny fragments of grassland scattered across Cambodia, Nepal and India, the Bengal Florican — the world’s rarest bustard — is known to have become increasingly threatened by land conversion for intensive agriculture, particularly from dry-season rice production. Cambodia, estimated to have fewer than 1,000 individuals, holds the world’s largest population of floricans.

Surveys in spring of this year highlighted the disappearance of grassland habitat in Kampong Thom and Siem Reap provinces, as a key reason behind the decline in Bengal Floricans. The florican has suffered enormous declines because of large-scale changes in agricultural techniques that have occurred throughout South-East Asia. The surveys were undertaken by BirdLife International alongside the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the University of East Anglia (UK), the Wildlife Protection Office and the Department of Nature Conservation and Parks, both government organisations.

The surveys highlighted the importance of traditional agricultural practices – grazing, burning and scrub-clearance – in ensuring populations of floricans can be sustained. This led to successful proposals for the designation of IFBAs – Integrated Farming and Biodiversity Areas.

"By incorporating and promoting suitable agricultural techniques, we have a sustainable option for ensuring the Bengal Florican can still exist in this region” —Jonathan Eames, BirdLife Indochina Programme Manager

“Bengal Floricans thrive in habitats that are also used by local communities for a range of crucial livelihood activities. Indeed, without human use, much of the habitat would probably become unsuitable." said Jonathan Eames, BirdLife Indochina Programme Manager. "Rapid agricultural change driven by larger investors is harming the birds and also has impacts on local smallholders. By incorporating and promoting suitable agricultural techniques, we have a sustainable option for ensuring the Bengal Florican can still exist in this region”

The decision to set up the IFBAs has come from Nam Thum, the provincial governor of Cambodia’s Kampong Thom province, near Phnom Penh. The area will cover over 30,000 ha near the Tonle Sap lake. The decisions have been commended by BirdLife International and WCS. We wholeheartedly applaud this decision and are encouraged that further areas may soon afford a similar status, said Eames.

IFBA proposals are being developed in three other nearby provinces, increasing the total number of floricans that can be conserved and widening the social benefits.

Diving duck resurfaces

20-11-2006
The Madagascar Pochard, a diving duck last sighted in 1991 and feared ‘Possibly Extinct’, has been rediscovered during a survey in remote northern Madagascar.
Conservationists from The Peregrine Fund Madagascar Project, discovered nine adults and four recently-hatched young on a remote lake, and have since revisited the site for further observations and data.
This is an exciting discovery that strengthens our conviction that putting well-trained biologists into the field to learn about species is critical for conservation success,said Rick Watson, International Programs Director for The Peregrine Fund.

With better knowledge about the habitat requirements of the Madagascar Pochard comes greater hopes for protecting the species and this area of marshland – a habitat on which many other threatened species may depend. Vony Raminoarisoa, Director of BirdLife International Madagascar Programme

The Madagascar Pochard Aythya innotata was until recently listed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct). The last pochard sighting was on Lake Alaotra in the Central Plateau of Madagascar in 1991 when a male was captured and kept in Antananarivo Zoological and Botanical Gardens until its death one year later. The lack of subsequent records despite intensive searches, and the intensity of threats to the species, had led to it being tagged as Possibly Extinct.
The last record of multiple birds dates back to June 1960 when 20 birds were sighted on Lake Alaotra.
After so much searching, and so long without a sighting, hope seemed to be fading for this species." said Vony Raminoarisoa, Director of BirdLife International Madagascar Programme. "With better knowledge about the habitat requirements of the Madagascar Pochard comes greater hopes for protecting the species and this area of marshland ,a habitat on which many other threatened species may depend.

The decline of the Madagascar Pochard is thought to have started in the mid-20th century and has been linked with degrading lake and marshland habitat from introduced plant and fish species, conversion to rice paddies, and burning. Little is known about the pochard, an extremely secretive and often solitary bird that prefers shallow and marshy habitat.

"The finding encourages us to consider more seriously the possibly that Madagascar's other 'Possibly Extinct' waterbird, the Alaotra Grebe, may not have been restricted to Lake Alaotra (where it no longer occurs); perhaps it occurred elsewhere, and perhaps it still does" said Roger Safford, Programme & Projects Manager, BirdLife International.

Bitter pill for Swallows

16-11-2006

A proposed airport development in South Africa is threatening the winter roosting sites of three million Barn Swallows that journey there after spending breeding months in countries across Europe and other parts of the world.

The development is being proposed by the South African government, apparently to meet the demands of hosting World Cup 2010. BirdLife International objects to the plans on the basis of the site’s global importance for Barn Swallow. The site is to be designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA) based on the fact that numbers represent more than 1% of the global population of Barn Swallows. This equates to more than 8% of the European breeding population.

The roost-site of the Barn Swallows, the Mount Moreland Reedbed, sits on what would be the flight-path for aircraft landing and taking off at the proposed airport extension. Conservationists from BirdLife South Africa are concerned that safety concerns for visiting aircraft will lead to the clearance of the reedbed, removing the roosting site for the swallows.

The swallows roost here in such numbers because of the lack of other suitable roosting areas around KwaZulu-Natal. The site is an island in a surrounding sea of sugar cane plantations. It’s vital. If the reedbeds are cleared, it’s unlikely that these Barn Swallows will find suitable roosting places elsewhere Neil Smith, Conservation Division, BirdLife South Africa.


Angie Wilkin
At dusk Barn Swallows form flocks, which then descend into the reedbeds.
Zoom In
"If the reedbeds are cleared, it’s unlikely that these Barn Swallows will find suitable roosting places elsewhere Neil Smith, Conservation Division, BirdLife South Africa.

The Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica undertakes one of the world’s most remarkable migrations, with many individuals travelling to breed in Europe and spending the European Winter in Southern Africa. Numbers of Barn Swallows have declined across many European countries, largely as a result of pesticides and other pollutants, partly a result of intensive farming practises.

In line with government procedure, the La Mercy airport development, 20 kilometres north of Durban, has had a preliminary Environmental Impact Assessment undertaken to ascertain the possible effects of the development on local wildlife. However, conservationists from Birdlife South Africa are concerned that the resulting jobs, trade and transport that will result from the airport development may tip the balance away from protecting the site’s globally significant populations of swallows.

On November 11th 2006, five hundred members of local communities in KwaZulu-Natal, visited the Mount Moreland Reedbed to welcome the Barn Swallow in from their migrations, and to show support for the site’s protection.

This is one of South Africa’s great wildlife spectacles said Di Dold, Environmental Coordinator for the Wildlife & Environment Society of South Africa: KZN Region, The swallow's arrival to these grounds is an emblem of the seasons. These are birds of the world, they depend on us all.

BirdLife South Africa is fully objecting to the development and instead, propose that the site be turned into a protected area, to ensure the Barn Swallows remain in the long-term.

Sites like the Mount Moreland Reedbed, that are important for large aggregations of birds, are particularly vulnerable to change. Removal of one suitable area can have an enormous impact on bird numbers. For a roost this size, the effect on breeding Barn Swallows numbers would be felt throughout Europe. Stuart Butchart, Global Species Programme Coordinator, BirdLife International.

Hundreds of thousands of people celebrate birds and IBAs during World Bird Festival 2006

Hundreds of thousands of people celebrate birds and IBAs during World Bird Festival 2006

10-11-2006

BirdLife International’s third World Bird Festival held during October attracted over 250,000 people to more than 1,800 events in 88 countries worldwide.
It is fantastic to think that so many people were celebrating the inspiration of birds this October. I’m especially pleased with the growth of participating countries in Africa and Asia,said Itziar Olmedo co-ordinator of World Bird Festival 2006.

Azerbaijan, China mainland, Vietnam and Rwanda were among the 19 countries participating for the first time in World Bird Festival. Record numbers of African (10) and Asian (18) countries took part and in the Americas, a stronghold for the festival, 23 countries participated.

This year with the special theme of Important Bird Areas (IBAs) many of the events had a practical focus as well as a celebrating nature. Local conservation groups involved in the protection and management of IBAs took centre stage, but the emphasis was also on the involvement of the wider community, including local and national government, citizen’s groups and businesses.
In Europe, people were encouraged to visit an IBA nearly 50,000 people in 34 European countries attended 1,400 EuroBirdwatch events, recording 3 million birds in the process. This event, supported by Toyota, is now Europe’s largest birdwatching event.

Eleven birdwatching societies in China mainland took part for the first time and held activities including exhibitions, talks, bird identification courses, birdwatching tours and kite-making competitions. In Taiwan, the Wild Bird Federation Taiwan (WBFT, BirdLife in Taiwan) carried out a synchronized census in 28 unprotected IBAs during which they observed 15,263 individual birds.

Getting children into nature is at the heart of many festival events - alongside making the ever-popular bird-masks, children learned to build bird-feeders and nest-boxes. Alongside exhibitions of new bird paintings and traditional bird art were displays explaining the importance of IBAs. In El Salvador, SalvaNATURA (BirdLife in El Salvador) focused on El Imposible's role as a refuge for resident and migratory birds by hosting six days of celebrations where hundreds of children from local communities took part in activities there.

Birdwatching is a core activity for many festival events. This year some organisers saw the traditional bird walks and bird counts attract representatives from tourism and industry, and the emphasis was as much on the economic potential of biodiversity conservation as the cultural and spiritual value of birds.
Some events drew in large crowds. In Mexico, over 10,000 people participated in the activities organised by the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. The second Malagasy Bird Fair took place at the Tsimbazaza Botanical and Zoological Park in Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar, from 27-29 October. Initial estimates of attendance are over 10,000, almost all Malagasy citizens. Many schools were involved, as well as representatives from the private sector (particularly tour operators and those in outdoor equipment sales), IBA Local conservation Group members from wetland sites, national and international NGOs, local associations, government ministries, embassies and protected area representatives. Many had stands to exhibit what they are doing.

World Bird Festival 2006 gave people the chance to feel part of a global movement for birds and nature, said Itziar Olmedo. The focus on IBAs demonstrates the vital role they play in the conservation of birds and biodiversity - it’s crucial to raise awareness of IBAs for the future of the wildlife and people that need them.

Prince of Wales pledges support to save the albatross from extinction

05-11-2006

HRH The Prince of Wales has further underlined his support for BirdLife International’s worldwide effort to save the world’s albatrosses from extinction.

Speaking at a launch for the film, ‘Race to Save the Albatross’, produced by The Friends of TVE and the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK), he highlighted the need for urgent action to help save the albatross from extinction.

Think of the way in which we treat our world, and the way we treat our oceans, and the way we exploit the fish stocks in particularIt would be such an appalling commentary on the way we treat the world.” he said.

One of the things that I think is very impressive is the work being done by the Albatross Task Force,- HRH The Prince of Wales.

Estimates suggest that 100,000 albatrosses are inadvertently killed each year by long-line fishing boats, particularly from boats in the Southern Ocean catching highly-prized species like tuna, toothfish and swordfish.

The film covers the plight of albatrosses and highlights other major problems faced by these birds, particularly from piracy illegal, unregulated vessels are thought to be responsible for at least a quarter of the albatrosses killed annually.

At the launch of the film, The Prince of Wales also praised the work of the BirdLife International Task Force.

One of the things that I think is very impressive is the work being done by the Albatross Task Force, he said.

Since 2005, these officers have been working with fishermen encouraging, training and promoting the use of simple, low-cost ways to reduce albatross by-catches. These methods include weighting nets, setting them at night and using screamer lines to scare the birds away.

These mitigation measures have been shown to reduce the damage to albatrosses to almost zero the challenge is to get the message across that these mitigation measures should be used at all times in all these fishing areas. he said.

The TVE/RSPB programme ‘Race to Save the Albatross’ will be aired on BBC World on November 11 -13 2006.



World Bird Festival is breaking records in the Americas

03-11-2006
In the Americas the World Bird Festival, or Festival Mundial de las Aves, as it is known there, is breaking records. Photo exhibitions, talks, workshops for children, drawing contests and birdwatching trips to Important Bird Areas have been some of the activities that more than 200 organisations in 23 countries held very successfully.

Save Brasil (BirdLife in Brazil) and IESB (Instituto de Estudo Socioambientais do Sul da Bahia) used the World Bird Festival as an opportunity to change attitudes in Serra das Lontras, a region where wild birds are routinely caught to keep at home or sell. The wild bird trade has reduced the population of some threatened birds in the region like the Bare-throated Bellbird (Procnias nudicollis) a Vulnerable species at global level. Activities such as drawing contests and theatre were used to explore the theme of birds in captivity. Children learned that having birds in cages is not desirable and that they are healthier, happier and more beautiful in their natural habitats, said Nina Duarte, Save Brasil’s Festival coordinator.

The Sociedad Ornitologica de la Hispaniola, one of the participating organizations in Dominican Republic, carried out exciting World Bird Festival events with communities at Los Haitises National Park IBA and Los Dajaos IBA. More than 400 adults and children enjoyed activities including birdwatching, presentations on the importance of migratory birds, and painting contests for children. They also launched a poster to celebrate the World Bird Festival and the inspiration of birds

A birdwatching trip to the Ecuador’s Rio Caoni IBA recorded 98 species, including Pacific Black-tailed Conure Pyrrhura melanura pacifica. This was just one of a number of activities coordinated by Aves & Conservacion (BirdLife in Ecuador), which attracted more than 3,000 people during the course of the festival. The main attraction was a three-day event in the Itchimbia Park in Quito, where hundreds of people met to celebrate birds by participating in more than 15 activities, including an exhibition of paintings of birds of Quito, games related to birds, exhibitions, talks and workshops for children.
Children learned that having birds in cages is not desirable and that they are healthier, happier and more beautiful in their natural habitats,Nina Duarte, Save Brasil’s Festival coordinator
Ecotourism and its benefits for the environment and the economy was one of the World Bird Festival themes in Guatemala. 83 people took part in the World Bird Count, covering more than 12 protected areas and eight private nature reserves, some of them proposed Important Bird Areas. These areas support bird conservation and are promoting avitourism as an economically profitable and environmentally compatible activity said Raquel Siguenza de Micheo, one of the coordinators of the festival in Guatemala. Ten governmental and non-governmental organizations, including both conservation and tourism industry groups, were involved in the Festival. They included the Biology School of San Carlos University, Fundacion Defensores de la Naturaleza, Asociacion de Reservas Naturales Privadas de Guatemala, the Guatemalan Tourism Institute (INGUAT), Centro de Estudios Conservacionistas (CECON), the Guatemalan Society of Ornithology (SGO), ALAS Guatemala, La Via Maya, OTUS and ORNIS - Shara Bird-Watch Guatemala.

Paraguay’s celebration of the World Bird Festival began in the streets of Asuncion with dances, music and paintings by young Paraguayans. 150 children and teachers visited San Rafael Reserve, Paraguay’s first IBA, and one of the most important remnants of Atlantic Forest. Earlier this year Guyra Paraguay (BirdLife in Paraguay) purchased 2,100 hectares of the San Rafael Reserve, to add to the 5,800 hectares they already own. San Rafael holds populations of 11 globally threatened bird species and 17 near-threatened species, as well as more Atlantic Forest endemic bird species than any other site in Paraguay. The old Central Train Station Presidente Carlos Antonio Lopez” in the centre of the city echoed to the sound of a Paraguayan harp playing the famous polka Guyra Campana and Paraguayan and international dances. Children enjoyed the moment, creating masks of owls, toucans and the Gua´a hovy (Hyacinthine Macaw) Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus, a globally Endangered species.

Groups unite at last refuge for Ridgway’s Hawk

01-11-2006
Bird conservation organisations united with community groups and ecotourism guides to celebrate the World Bird Festival at Los Haitises National Park, an IBA in the Dominican Republic which provides the last refuge for the Critically Endangered Ridgway's Hawk Buteo ridgwayi.
Grupo Jaragua, community volunteers from Jaragua, and the Pedernales Association of Nature Guides joined with the eastern guide group Green Brigade for a two-day exchange in the Park. Activities included a nature hike, bird identification, mangrove reforestation, and a round-table of dialogue between the groups.
Although defined by differences-regional, environmental and organizational- the groups were able to come together to celebrate a common respect for bird life and their conservation," said Benjamin Kushner, a Peace Corps volunteer who helped coordinate the event.

Although defined by differences-regional, environmental and organizational- the groups were able to come together to celebrate a common respect for bird life and their conservation," Benjamin Kushner, Peace Corps volunteer
Just 80 to 120 pairs of Ridgway’s Hawk survive, confined to less than 208 km2 of native rainforest within Los Haitises. Studies published earlier this year (click here for more details) showed alarming levels of encroachment on the park by farmers, and high levels of human disturbance leading some hawks to abandon their nests. Our group is dedicated to the conservation of this species,explained Christian Reyes of Sabana de la Mar Green Brigade.
The success of this event highlights the importance of establishing communication between different bird conservation movements across physical and organizational boundaries in the Dominican Republic, said Itziar Olmedo, BirdLife International’s World Bird Festival Coordinator.

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

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