World Bird News November 2013

The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | World Bird News | World Bird News 2013 |  World Bird News November 2013

Mediterranean IBA tourism app goes interactive

Mediterranean IBA tourism app goes interactive

By Adrian Long, Thu, 31/10/2013 - 15:56

BirdLife’s EU-funded project to promote sustainable birdwatching tourism in the Natura 2000 protected area network is about to take a giant leap forward. A new app gives birding tourists the opportunity to plan their trips using interactive maps, species lists and access and facilities information for all the Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) around the places they are intending to visit.

An early version of the app has already been available, in the form of the IberAves app for visitors to Spain and Portugal. The new Android version also covers Greece and Cyprus, and for the first time enables visitors to update the site maps with their own discoveries, such as hides and other good viewing points, trees and fields worth checking, and handy places to eat.

In 2012, SEO/BirdLife (Spain) and SPEA (BirdLife in Portugal) were joined by BirdLife Cyprus and the Hellenic Ornithological Society (BirdLife in Greece) in the MediterAves project, the latest incarnation of the EU’s Leonardo da Vinci Agency-funded International Project on Ornithological Tourism, which is led and implemented by the Birdlife Partnership.

All four BirdLife Partners were at this year’s British Birdwatching Fair, where SEO/BirdLife shared a stand with the Institute of Tourism of Spain. The new app was demonstrated on the BirdLife International stand. BirdFair was the ideal venue to get feedback from the world’s most dedicated birders, as well as major birding tour operators and professional tour leaders.

“Many of the people who attended the demonstration were impressed by the ease and convenience of being able to plan their trips in such close and reliable detail from one source”, said Ade Long, BirdLife’s Head of Communications. “Others were excited about the new interactive capabilities, which will make the app the first multi-country site guide which can be continually updated with the best of birders’ own experiences.”

The Mediterranean Birds App is available here

Record numbers of White-shouldered Ibis in Cambodia

By Martin Fowlie, Mon, 04/11/2013 - 10:32

A record number of White-shouldered Ibis Pseudibis davisoni have been recorded in the wild in Cambodia, making the known global population larger than previous studies suggested. These results once again confirm that Cambodia is the stronghold for this Critically Endangered species.

The count of 973 follows nearly a decade’s conservation work by international and local NGOs and government agencies. Since coordinated counts began in 2009, the known population for this species has been increasing every year, partly as a result of conservation actions, such as nest protection to improve chick survival, and partly due to increased survey effort and better knowledge of roost locations.

The future of this species is far from certain. Many of these birds are at risk of losing their habitat from imminent changes in land use and currently over three-quarters of the birds were censused on roosts outside the boundaries of legally protected areas. The counts have identified Western Siem Pang Proposed Protected Forest as the most important site.

With a global population of around 1200 birds, Cambodia could hold as much as 97% of the world’s White-shouldered Ibises and the country is of vital importance for the species’ conservation.

Though the recent counts are positive news there is still significant work to be done if this species is to be safeguarded.

The coordinated survey was carried out by BirdLife International and its partners including Cambodian Forestry Administration, General Department for Administration of Nature Conservation and Protection, People Resources and Conservation Foundation, Wildlife Conservation Society, Sam Veasna Center and Worldwide Fund for Nature.

Several donors have supported this work, particularly the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, Steven Martin (BirdLife Species Champion), The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Mohammed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund.

A new era of cooperation for the BirdLife International Partnership in China

By Martin Fowlie, Fri, 08/11/2013 - 10:48

The beginning of a new era in formal cooperation between BirdLife International and China has begun with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the BirdLife International Partnership and the China Ornithological Society (COS).

The MoU was signed by BirdLife’s Chief Executive Dr Marco Lambertini, and Professor Liu Naifa, President of the COS and witnessed by 500 ornithologists at the Opening Ceremony of the 12th Congress of COS, convened in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province, China.

BirdLife and the COS will jointly address research priorities and urgent conservation concerns in China affecting birds and biodiversity. They will share information related to birds and their habitats, and engage in capacity development efforts for bird research and conservation, and related conservation actions.

“We are delighted to sign this agreement with the China Ornithological Society to share knowledge and resources for the development of research and conservation of birds, one of the most powerful indicators of the health of the environment”, said Marco Lambertini. “It is has been a privilege for BirdLife to support the growth of awareness, appreciation, research and conservation action for birds in China over the past years. This new agreement with COS will promote and develop even further bird and nature conservation in China”.

COS is an academic organisation which has set up a nationwide network of ornithologists and conservationists, and is promoting international cooperation in research and conservation actions for the country’s threatened bird species. They are also supporting the development of a generation of young professional ornithologists and conservationists in China.

“There is a close match between COS goals and BirdLife’s global objectives, and I am confident that this Memorandum of Understanding will result in improvements in the status of China’s threatened birds and biodiversity”, added Lambertini.

“We are very happy to witness this historic event, symbolising the start of formal cooperation between BirdLife and the COS”, said Prof Zhang Zhengwang, Secretary General of the COS. “There will be great scope for our joint endeavours in the conservation of endemic, threatened and migratory birds. Chinese ornithologists will contribute their best for the conservation of global biodiversity.”

At least 1,237 species of birds occur in China, making the country the eighth richest in bird diversity in the world. A total of 568 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) have been identified in China, and there will be more when the country is thoroughly surveyed. China also occupies a strategic position along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.

Red List for Birds 2013: Number of Critically Endangered birds hits new high

By Martin Fowlie, Tue, 26/11/2013 - 06:38

The number of bird species listed as Critically Endangered has reached an all-time high with the release of this year’s Red List for birds by BirdLife International.

White-winged Flufftail Sarothrura ayresi, a secretive and unobtrusive sub-Saharan bird, is the latest species to join the growing list of those on the very edge of extinction. Destruction and degradation of its high altitude wet grassland habitat, including wetland drainage, conversion for agriculture, water abstraction, overgrazing by livestock and cutting of marsh vegetation, have driven it to this precarious state. Urgent action is now needed in both Ethiopia and South Africa to better understand the species’ ecology and to address these threats and save it from extinction.

“Almost 200 species of bird are now in real danger of being lost forever”, said Dr Leon Bennun, BirdLife’s Director of Science, Policy and Information. “They are being hit on multiple fronts. Habitat loss, agricultural changes, invasive species and climate change are the principle threats. Without these problems being addressed the list will continue to grow.”

Critically Endangered is the highest risk category of the IUCN Red List of threatened species, comprising those that are facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.

Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola has declined catastrophically over recent years due to uncontrolled trapping in its wintering grounds in southern China and South-East Asia. This once-common species, which was listed as Least Concern as recently as 2000, has been uplisted three times in the past decade alone, and is now considered Endangered – just one step away from becoming the next addition to the Critically Endangered list.

However, there is also good news and real signs that conservation action works.

How much will it cost to prevent further extinctions?

Two species of albatross - one of the most threatened of the planet’s bird families – are now considered to be at a lower risk of extinction after increases in their populations.

“Black-browed and Black-footed Albatrosses have both been downlisted to lower Red List categories”, said Andy Symes, BirdLife’s Global Species Officer. “There is still some way to go, but this gives us great hope for turning around the fortunes of other albatrosses.”

“Bycatch in fisheries is the main threat, and efforts are underway in many longline and trawl fleets worldwide to reduce the numbers killed. If we can keep this up, there is real hope that the Black-browed and Black-footed Albatross will set a trend for the future.”

On the Indian Ocean island of Rodrigues, two species – Rodrigues Fody Foudia flavicans and Rodrigues Warbler Acrocephalus rodericanus – have also been downlisted as a result of conservation action. Habitat protection and reforestation, spurred by the need for watershed protection, have been key to the recovery of these species, aided by the recent absence of catastrophic cyclones. Although much reforestation has involved exotic trees, native ecosystem rehabilitation has been started at some sites. These are fenced to exclude grazing animals and woodcutters, exotic plants removed and native species replanted, and there has been an accompanying public awareness campaign.

“This year’s Red List is a mix of good and bad news, but once again it shows that conservation groups around the globe are succeeding in saving species and preventing extinction – and these committed efforts now need to be greatly scaled up”, concluded Dr Bennun.

BirdLife is the Red List Authority for birds for the IUCN Red List. The IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM (or the IUCN Red List) is the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of plant and animal species. It is based on an objective system for assessing the risk of extinction of a species should no conservation action be taken.

Action for Amur Falcons brings hope for an end to hunting in Nagaland

Action for Amur Falcons brings hope for an end to hunting in Nagaland

By Jim Lawrence, Fri, 29/11/2013 - 13:41

Last year’s news of the massacre of Amur Falcons in India shocked the world. BirdLife’s Indian Partner BNHS moved immediately to mobilise a response. The trapping was stopped, nets destroyed and arrests made, although not before terrible damage had been done.

This year, the generous response to our international appeal has enabled BNHS, with the support of the BirdLife Partnership, to organise a comprehensive programme to keep the falcons safe around the Doyang reservoir, where they roost during their stopover. The programme has mainly been implemented by a local NGO, Nagaland Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation Trust, working with the Nagaland Forest Department.

As a result, not a single Amur Falcon was trapped during the 2013 autumn migration. Attitudes have changed so much in the space of a single year that the Amur Falcons are now treated, in the words of Nagaland’s Chief Minister, as “esteemed guests”.
A year ago we brought you the shocking news of a hunting massacre taking place in Nagaland, India, which BNHS (BirdLife in India) had been alerted to by colleagues from the campaigning NGO - Conservation India.

Tens of thousands of migrating Amur Falcons Falco amurensis were being illegally trapped on the roost at a reservoir at Doyang and then being taken to local markets alive, or killed and smoked, for sale as food.
Online news articles and a graphic video of the atrocity were quick to spread via social media. Many individuals from around the world responded generously to the international appeal we launched.

We are delighted to report today that this appeal has been an outstanding success.
Robust conservation has been put in place with the funds raised and actions taken to ensure the prevention of illegal hunting of Amur Falcons this year have been completely successful. An innovative long-term community outreach campaign has also been initiated that has been received very well locally.

This year, the hundreds of thousands of Amur Falcons that visited Doyang reservoir were able to do so in peace. They have now passed safely through Northern India and continued their migration on to Southern Africa.

The BirdLife International Partnership would like to thank all who joined forces to make this happen!
“From an estimated 100,000 falcons killed last year, none have been trapped in nets this year. The transformation is extraordinary and the change has come very quickly. But we also have to guard against this rapid change getting reversed. We needed to also set up solutions which are sustainable and of practical use to the community,” said Dr Asad Rahmani, Director, BNHS. "I would like to thank Nagaland Forest Department, the people of Nagaland, the Government of India, BirdLife International and all the NGOs working on this issue for this conservation success"
Last year BNHS took action from the outset and many other BirdLife Partners quickly showed their support by lending their authority to our international campaign too.

Following a call from Dr. Rahmani, Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan - the Indian Minister for Environment & Forests - personally intervened and the Indian Forest Department and District Administration were also swift to act. The result was that nets were destroyed, captured birds were released, the sale of falcons was stopped and arrests were made.
The key next step was to put plans in place to ensure the atrocity would not be repeated again this year.

Preparation for the return of the Amur Falcons to Nagaland this autumn has been comprehensive. Supported by our appeal, BNHS has coordinated a widespread campaign of action that has been primarily implemented locally by Nagaland Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation Trust. Others supporting the campaign include WCS India, Raptor Research and Conservation Foundation and WildLife Conservation Trust.

Specific actions taken this year, enabled by BirdLife’s appeal, have included the employment of staff to patrol the Doyang area and to act as ambassadors within the local community. The local Government Forest Department has also been patrolling the roost areas.

As a result of the advocacy campaign, The Deputy Commissioner of the Wokha Police committed his forces to respond as needed and enforce the law rapidly when necessary. Local government also issued a timely anti-hunting order.

The spectacular site at Doyang Reservoir is now recognised as a stopover for up to a million Amur Falcons each year and will soon be declared an Important Bird Area.

Long-term community action plans have also been established in Nagaland through the church, schools and other local groups.

An innovative PR campaign “Friends of the Amur Falcon” was developed to galvanise community action throughout the region supported by a comprehensive set of eye-catching promotional and educational materials.

As part of the initiative, locals from Doyang, Pangti, Asha and Sungro villages in Nagaland were employed to start eco-clubs and target students with a powerful conservation message.
“The local outreach activities began in August with a ‘train the trainer’ programme for teachers and church leaders and the eco-club programme for children soon followed. The community received this activity enthusiastically with more than 70 children enrolling and actively participating.
When we were starting out, we were told this was a very difficult part of the world to work in. There had been virtually no history of conservation action in the areas we worked in. But we found that in the students we have real hope for creating conservation ambassadors. Some of them have never been exposed to Nagaland and India’s magnificent natural history. They are genuinely impressed with it and here is a long-term hope for change,” says Neha Sinha, Advocacy and Policy officer, BNHS.

One particular component of the eco-clubs that caught the children’s imagination and proved very popular was the issuing of an ‘Amur Ambassador’ Passport. Each child received this as evidence of their personal commitment to protect Amur Falcons in their community.
Additionally to their outreach in Nagaland, BNHS has extended its advocacy to several villages in nearby Assam, which they discovered had also seen some hunting of Amur Falcons. These villages include Habang, which is next to Habang IBA—chosen for another congregation of Amur Falcons, as well as the nearby Umro village, on the Assam-Meghalaya border.

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio lent his weight to the campaign when he made a surprise visit to Doyang reservoir this November. As well as witnessing the spectacle of the migrating Amur Falcons first hand, he met students and members of the eco clubs there.
“The state government is committed to end the unfortunate killings of the migratory Amur falcons and fully support the efforts of NWBCT and other NGOs to educate the people about these migratory birds and to give them a safe passage through Nagaland,” he said during his visit.

Prior to his visit to Doyang, the Chief Minister had asked Nagas to “extend hospitality” towards their ‘esteemed guests’- the Amur Falcons – via a prominent poster campaign displayed on billboards throughout the state.

The outreach activities coordinated by BNHS this year will be continued in 2014 with the hope that a gradual change can be brought about in the region and help all in the community there live in greater harmony with their environment.

The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | World Bird News | World Bird News 2013 |  World Bird News November 2013

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