Working for birds in Africa

Soaring migratory bird deaths in Egypt

Date posted: 
Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Large numbers of migrating Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina and White Stork Ciconia ciconia have been found dead near a water treatment plant in Egypt. The exact causes of their death are not known. However, a new BirdLife project will address key threats to soaring migratory birds as they undertake their epic journeys.

Soaring migratory birds glide between areas of rising hot air to aid their long-distance passage. This method, which cannot be used over large water bodies or high mountains, limits the potential routes and concentrates birds into vulnerable corridors. Egypt is at a critical geographic bottleneck for soaring migratory birds, and at the time of the recent deaths thousands of birds were passing through the country.

In total, local bird watchers found 27 Lesser Spotted Eagles and over 30 White Storks dead near a water treatment plant in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt. In addition, BirdLife received reports of a grounded European Honey-buzzard Pernis apivorus and a number of dead 'wader' species.

"We don't know the exact causes of these deaths", said Hala Barakat, President of Nature Conservation Egypt (BirdLife in Egypt). "These birds face a number of different threats such poisoning, hunting, habitat-loss and direct collisions with structures such as wind-farms and power-lines".

"BirdLife's Migratory Soaring Birds project aims to address these threats. We will be working with these key economic sectors to better understand the underlying causes of the threats to soaring birds, and develop best practice guidelines", commented Dr Jonathan Barnard - BirdLife's Programme and Projects Manager. This will be achieved through regional awareness-raising and training, combined with six pilot projects in partnership with the key stakeholders across the Middle East and north-east Africa.

"Following lessons learned from our pilot projects, our aim is to set up an accreditation scheme to encourage companies to adopt a 'Soaring Bird friendly' approach to their work", noted Dr Barnard.

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