At the recently concluded 12th Pan-African Ornithological Congress (PAOC 12), held near Cape Town, South Africa, the experts expressed concern that the proposed soda ash mining at Lake Natron raises serious questions about the future of the lake and its flamingos.
“Flyway conservation at work – review of the past, vision for the future” is the theme of the Fourth Meeting of the Parties to the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA). AEWA is an international treaty dedicated to the conservation of migratory waterbirds such as ducks, waders, storks, flamingos and many others which migrate along the African-Eurasian Flyways. Countries which have become Parties to the Agreement commit to putting measures in place to conserve the region's waterbird populations and the habitats on which they depend.
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola, Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea, Sanderling C. alba, Red Knot C. canutus and Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres are the major components of the summer wader assemblage.
They had called for action to tackle pollution of the dam, which is being blamed for swollen joints and lesions on the legs of many of this year’s 9,000 lesser flamingo chicks. In addition, plans to build a commercial park, shopping mall and 6,400 upmarket homes within the wetland’s protective buffer zone could force these vulnerable birds to leave.
The newly found Olive-backed Forest Robin Stiphrornis pyrrholaemus was named by the scientists for its distinctive olive back and rump. Adult birds measure 4.5 inches in length and average 18 grams in weight. Males exhibit a fiery orange throat and breast, yellow belly, olive back and black feathers on the head. Females are similar, but less vibrant. Both sexes have a distinctive white dot on their face in front of each eye.
The MEC said his plan would provide a more sustainable solution than de-proclaiming part of the reserve. The plan includes improving service delivery, better access to clinics and schools and increased interaction with communities.
Communities surrounding the reserve live in poverty and have little arable land. Early last month the Bhekabantu and eMbangweni communities cut the park's fence and occupied land, demanding that they be allowed to farm inside the park.
Management actions might be urgently needed to restore the habitat, and we fear that very similar situations might occur even on Mt Kenya and Mt Elgon. What we might find is that no Sharpe's Longclaw (or very few) occur inside National Parks.
“With rampant illegal logging, vague logging concession boundaries and massive blocks of pristine forest destined for the chainsaw, this is a laudable step towards avoiding an ecological disaster,” says James P. Leape, Director General of WWF.
Published in the journal Animal Conservation, the study was based on scientists monitoring catches on 14 different vessels, operating in the Benguela Current, off South Africa; one of the main hotspots for seabirds in the Southern Hemisphere.
The vessels were trawling for hake, and the majority of bird deaths were a result of collisions with wires - known as warp lines - leading from the stern of the vessels.
Furthering their long term commitment to environmental causes, WildSounds has now stepped forward to ‘champion’ Spoon-billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus pygmeus. “We are privileged to become a BirdLife Species Champion and help bring attention to the plight of Spoon-billed Sandpiper”, said Duncan Macdonald, Managing Director of WildSounds.