Working for birds in Africa

Local group makes its mark at Egypt's Lake Qarun

Date posted: 
Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Egypt’s first IBA-Local Conservation Group / Site Support Group (SSG) has persuaded one of the country’s largest construction groups to end the dumping of waste at Lake Qarun, which holds regionally important numbers of waterbirds in winter. The construction company has also pledged to restore an area of saltmarsh destroyed by tourism development along the lake shore, as a bird sanctuary.

The Lake Qarun Protected Area LCG/SSG was established by Nature Conservation Egypt (NCE; BirdLife Affiliate) in 2008, with a grant from the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation.

The lake occupies the deepest part of the Fayoum Depression, more than 40 metres below sea level. Once a large body of fresh water supporting Nilotic flora and fauna, the lake now receives almost all its water as drainage from irrigated land. As a result, and because the only ‘outflow’ is via evaporation, levels of salinity have been steadily increasing. The lake is now slightly more salty than seawater.

Because of these environmental changes, a local subspecies of Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala norrisae has become extinct, while Slender-billed Gull Larus genei, which began breeding in the 1990s, has now reached around 8,500 pairs. Numbers of breeding Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus also meet IBA criteria, as does the wintering population of Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis.

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