Classified as Critically Endangered, Slender-billed Curlew is the rarest species found in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, with no confirmed records since 1999. Regarded as very common in the 19th century, it declined dramatically during the 20th. It migrated from its presumed breeding grounds in Siberia, across central and eastern Europe to wintering grounds in North Africa and the Middle East. Flocks of over 100 birds were recorded from Morocco as late as the 1960s and 1970s.
During the conference, Tanzania's Environment Minister spoke about Lake Natron as: "the flamingo's birthplace". She continued: "Tanzania is conscious of the potential that the wise use of wetlands can offer to sustain the economic and social activities of a wide range of public and private stakeholders".
The pilot scheme is part of the Wings Over Wetlands (WOW) project, a large collaborative initiative aimed at conserving migratory waterbirds and their habitats in the African-Eurasian region. WOW has been operational in Nigeria since the middle of 2007, and is working with local partners to foster local solutions to the environmental challenges they face with regard to the wetlands and their livelihoods.
"The livelihood security of millions of rural people all over Africa is inextricably linked with biodiversity and the use of biological resources, either through the direct use of the goods which they supply to people, or indirectly through the wider environmental and cultural services", said Dr Hazell Shokellu Thompson, BirdLife Director for Africa and Secretariat Head. "This is what BirdLife in Africa has been showcasing through this project and it's satisfying to see results".
In 2001 BirdLife published a directory of IBAs in Africa and its associated Islands. Since that time, BirdLife Partners in Africa have embarked on an ambitious process of advocacy, action and monitoring to protect these sites in perpetuity. The new book, entitled ‘A Toolkit for Important Bird Area Conservation in Africa’ presents the results of lessons learned towards the sustainable conservation of these key sites.
Site Support Groups (SSGs) like KENVO are key to BirdLife's work and one of the most practical ways of achieving conservation by local communities. They work to protect the most threatened biodiversity sites, whilst ensuring benefits from the wise use of the natural resources. SSGs are valuable tools for the future, due to their intricate relationships with the wider community and to the resources within IBAs.
The extraction of coal from almost 200 km2 of the Wakkerstroom / Luneburg region, a vast area of wetlands and grassland east of Pretoria, would destroy habitats used by over 300 bird species including South Africa’s national bird, Blue Crane Grus paradisea (Vulnerable).
Pink Pigeons grabbed the attention of conservationists world-wide when a few of the birds - thought to be extinct like the Dodo - were discovered in a tiny section of the forest in the 1970s. Efforts to save the bird have been fairly successful, despite the danger posed by rats, cats and monkeys brought to the island by settlers 400 hundred years ago.
Thanks to institutions like the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation there are now Pink Pigeon sanctuaries in Mauritius and the numbers have increased to some 400 birds - enough to suggest the bird will survive into the future.
"The sighting of the Ibadan Malimbe in Ifon Forest Reserve indicates an extension of the earlier range, and have raised interesting research questions about the distribution of Ibadan Malimbe in south-western forests", said Ademola Ajagbe of Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF, BirdLife Partner Designate in Nigeria),
“Global change in biodiversity is hard to measure and effective indicators are still in short supply”, said Alison Stattersfield, BirdLife’s Head of Science and lead editor on the State of the Worlds Birds report. “This is where birds can really help, as we know much more about them than for most other animals and plants. Birds provide an accurate and easy to read environmental barometer, allowing us to see clearly the pressures our current way of life are putting on the world’s biodiversity.”