Wednesday, 27 May 2015

NBI situation in Siria


A rare bird in Syria is at risk of extinction after Palmyra, one of the country’s most ancient cities, was captured by the Islamic State group earlier this month, BBC reported, citing experts. The bird, called the northern bald ibis, was declared extinct in Syria over 70 years ago until seven of them were found near the city of Palmyra in 2002.

Despite being protected, the bird's numbers in Syria declined to four, and three of them were abandoned last week when their guards fled Palmyra after ISIS seized the city, BBC reported. Officials have offered a reward of $1,000 for information about the whereabouts of a fourth bird, called Zenobia, as it is the only bird that knows the species' migration route to Ethiopia.“Culture and nature they go hand in hand, and war stops, but nobody can bring back a species from extinction,” Asaad Serhal, head of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon, told BBC, adding that finding Zenobia is critical because without this bird, other captive birds cannot be released, raising threats of the species’ extinction in Syria.

The northern bald ibis is large, glossy and black, measuring about 30 inches in length, with a wingspan of about 53 inches. According to satellite tagging of 13 Syrian birds in 2006, three adults in the group and a fourth untagged one wintered together from February to July in the highlands of Ethiopia.

ISIS seized Palmyra, which is considered by UNESCO to be “one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world,” on Wednesday, after days of fighting Syrian army forces. According to U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), ISIS now holds over half of Syrian territory after its seizure of Palmyra. The future of the centuries' old ruins in Palmyra is also at stake as the Sunni extremist group has been known to destroy local cultural artifacts that do not conform to its hardline views of Islam.

“There are no forces to stop them [entering the ruins]… But the important thing also is they now control 50% of Syria,” Rami Abdul Rahman, director of SOHR, said, according to the Guardian.

Last week, ISIS also reportedly beheaded at least four people in Palmyra, with some reports saying that the executed men were fighters with the Syrian regime, while other activists in Palmyra said the men were from a Sunni tribe called the Shaitat. Palmyra’s capture came just days after ISIS took the major Iraqi city of Ramadi, handing the Iraqi government its biggest defeat since last summer.

On Monday, however, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told BBC that Ramadi would be taken back from ISIS “in days” if Iraq received more support from international coalition partners. Al-Abadi’s remarks came after U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Sunday that Iraqi military lacked the will to fight ISIS militants.

“[Carter] was very supportive of Iraq and I am sure he was fed with the wrong information,” BBC quoted al-Abadi as saying. “[Iraqi forces] have the will to fight but when they are faced with an onslaught by [ISIS] from nowhere... with armored trucks packed with explosives, the effect of them is like a small nuclear bomb - it gives a very bad effect on our forces.”

Saturday, 31 January 2015

2014 breeding season results: New record

As a regular task of the wardens employed by BirdLife in coordination with Souss Massa National park, monitoring of the colonies is essential to evaluate the evolution of the population

Regular monitoring of the population produced the following results:

SMNP
TAMRI
SMNP & TAMRI
Site A
Site F
Site E
Total
Pairs
20
20
21
61
63
124
Pairs laying eggs
19
18
21
58
57
115
Hatchlings
35
41
53
129
151
280
Fledglings
30
36
46
112
80
192
Chick survival (%)
58,7
87,8
86,7
86,8
52,9
68,5
Productivity
1,6
2
2,2
1,9
1,4
1,6

A productivity of 1.6 fledglings per pair is very successful for this species. In fact, if we compare these parameters with the previous year we get

SMNP
Tamri
SMNP + Tamri
2013
2014
2013
2014
2013
2014
Pairs
51
61
62
63
118
124
Pairs laying eggs
53
58
60
57
113
115
Hatchlings
101
129
161
151
262
280
Fledglings
77
112
71
80
148
192
Chick survival (%)
76.2
86.8
44
52.9
56.4
68.5
Productivity
1.4
1.9
1.1
1.4
1.3
1.6

The evolution becomes evident if we compare among years

Figure 1 Evolution of the number of pairs and fledglings in Souss-Massa and Tamri area

We can see that both the number of pairs and fledglings is the highest ever recorded in Morocco since the beginning of NBI conservation program in the 1990s.

In addition to the very successful breeding records, the regular census at roosts, gave at least 524 individuals. The evolution of the population is shown in the following figure.

Figure 2  Evolution of the post breeding numbers of NBI in Souss-Massa and Tamri area

In 2004, the count was 528 individuals, only slightly over the current record.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Ibis gets royal visit



By Claire Thompson, Fri, 21/03/2014 - 10:14


HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco recently visited Souss Massa National Park, Morocco, home to the largest remaining wild population of Northern Bald Ibis.

Accompanied by representatives from SEO/BirdLife (BirdLife in Spain), GREPOM (BirdLife in Morocco), and key staff from the National Park, the Prince visited the cliffs where the colonies of this Critically Endangered species currently breed. The Prince saw first-hand the success of the project and project staff were able to thank the prince for his foundation’s support for the project over the past 4 years.

“I am delighted to support BirdLife’s conservation efforts for this iconic and Critically Endangered species, and am honoured to be their Species Champion,” said the Prince.

Last year the colonies in Souss-Massa National Park and nearby Tamri had their second most successful breeding season since records began. The colonies at Souss Massa National Park fledged 148 young, bringing the total population at the end of the breeding season to 443 birds.


HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco between Mr. Mohammed El Bekkay, director of SMNP (left) and Mohamed Dakki, President of GREPOM (right)

During this visit, the Foundation expressed their ongoing commitment to supporting the project, with a particular interest in supporting the development of ecotourism in this remote region surrounding Agadir.

BirdLife International, SEO and GREPOM would like to once again thank the Prince Albert II Monaco Foundation for their ongoing generous support for this important project. 


Originally published at BirdLife site
Further reading at FPA2 site

Friday, 21 February 2014

Still some hope for Eastern NBI population


Our trusted fieldworker in Ethiopian highlands, Yilma Abebe, with some RSPB support, managed to spend three days at the site where the relict Syrian birds mainly overwintered - and reported this week that three adult northern bald ibis! These included the female Zenobia who had previously been paired to Odeinat (who disappeared over a year ago in Saudi Arabia). Interestingly, she was accompanied by an unringed adult, so perhaps there’s a faint hope that they are indeed a pair, and might make it back to breed in Syria? There was also one other lone bird sighted in the area. We await further details of Yilma’s visit, but it’s good to know there is still a faint hope for the population.

As you may know or remember, only a single adult was seen back at the Syrian breeding site last spring, and despite the problems in the country, the field team there somehow managed to continue some field checks. Our thoughts are certainly with them and their families.



For earlier background:

http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/tracking/northernbaldibis/

www.iagnbi.org

Thursday, 16 January 2014

NBI shows why birds fly in V

Many bird species have developped refined flying strategies drawing an almost perfect V in flight. It has been traditionally assumed that this tactic minimizes energy costs, but until now, there was not enough scientific evidence to explain how it works.  

A team from Austria, Germany and United Kingdom has shown how NBI individuals have developed a range of phasing strategies in order to optimise turbulences produced by flapping wings. Individuals flying in a V-flock position themselves in aerodynamically most favourable positions, in accord with theoretical aerodynamic predictions. Besides, birds flaps spatially in phase, thus enabling optimal upwash capture throughout the entire wing-beat cycle. In contrast, when birds fly immediately behind another bird, they flap in anti-phase. This could potentially reduce the adverse effects of downwash for the following bird. These aerodynamic accomplishments require complex flight dynamics and sensory feedback to optimise the benefits and reduce the loss due to turbulences made by preceding flock mates.


Source:


Monday, 30 September 2013

NBI at Sidi Kaouki

A dozen NBI has been spotted by the coast of Sidi Kaouki, South of Essaouira during several weeks last February. Sylvie Brignon, provided us the information and the pictures.

This is the biggest group recorded outside the known breeding and wintering area around Massa and Tamri.

Photo, Sylvie Brignon

The furthermost location of Aylal has been by the Commune Tafedna, some 70 km Norht of Tamri, and juveniles are often seen by Imsouane, 20 km North of Tamri. This new location at Sidi Kaouki is 140 km as the crow flies from this breeding site.

Photo, Sylvie Brignon

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

2013 breeding results

I. Introduction:
In the framework of the National Species Action Plan for Northern Bald Ibis, Geronticus eremita, prepared in 2008 by HCEFLCD (High Commission for Water and Forest and Fight against Desertification) with its partners, monitoring NBI is one of the main aspects to follow population dynamics. Collected data are essential to take any decision to manage the last viable NBI population in the world. 

II. Main activities and events in  2013

1. Wardens
Seven wardens are recruited with the cooperation of Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, 4 in Souss Massa National Park and 3 in Tamri area. 

2. Site C
Dummies installed at site C faded and are currently dusty. They are not efficient and should be retired.

3. Disturbance
Breeding sites didn't suffer too much disturbance by tourist, compared to previous years. 12 visitors, 9 of them birders, approached Tamri site and two photographers went close to sites A and F, in the Park. 
Nevertheless, this year site E was very frequented by fishermen just at the beginning of the breeding season. Wardens, assisted by rangers kindly persuaded the fishermen to leave.


4. Waterpoints
Waterpoints are daily cleaned and filled with fresh water by the wardens, during all the breeding season. Their monitoring showed a regular use by adults and, later, fledgings.

See here to know more about water supply


III. 2013 breeding season results 

Breeding season started in Tamri by the first week of February and finissed during the last week of Mai. Unlike the previous year, in 2013 60 pairs produced fledgings from 161 hatchlings. Although survival is relatively low (44%), productivity (1,1 fledgling/nest) is satisfactory. 
In SMNP breeding started later, by the first week of March, and finished in mid June. A lanner falcon prevented ibises to nest at site B (that usually holds 6 pairs), thus only 53 pairs nested and 77 fledging survived from 101 hatchings (survival 76%; productivity, 1,4 fledgling/nest). 
Altogether, 118 pairs were formed, 113 nested successfully and produced 262 chicks 148 of whom fledgled (survival rate, 56%, productivity, 1,3 fledgling/nest). 

Table 1. Results at the different sites.
Parameters
SMNP
TAMRI
PNSM & TAMRI

Site A
Site B
Site F
Site E
Total


Formed pairs
20
0
16
20
56
62
118
Laying pairs  (1)
20
0
15
18
53
60
113
Hatchlings
34
0
34
33
101
161
262
Fledglings (2)
28
0
24
25
77
71
148
Survival rate  (%)
82,3
0
70,5
75,7
76,2
44
56,4
Productivity (2/1)
1,4
0
1,6
1,3
1,4
1,1
1,3

Differences with 2012 (Table 2) are due to the good weather conditions, with rains well distributed between September 2012 and April 2013. 

Table 2. Comparaison between 2012 and 2013
Parameter
SMNP
Tamri
SMNP &Tamri

2012
2013
2012
2013
2012
2013
Formed pairs
62
56
43
62
105
118
Laying pairs (1)
54
53
11
60
65
113
Hatchlings
95
101
0
161
95
262
Fledglings  (2)
56
77
0
71
56
148
Productivity (2/1)
1
1.4
0
1.1
0.8
1.3

The number of pairs is the highest since the creation of the Park (Figure 1).

Figure 1 : Evolution of number of NBI breeding pairs in Souss-Massa region

The number of chicks produced also increased (Figure 2), despite the relatively low survival rates observed in Tamri site, and it's one of the highest even recorded.  This mortality could be explained, among other things, by a shortness of food resources available in a region in which there is more disturbance from human activities (tourism development, nomadic herds, ...).

Figure 2 : Evolution of productivity of NBI population in Souss-Massa region (blue, number of fledglings; red, productivity)

Regular census shows that before breeding there were 319 individuals. After breeding, the number rose to 443 birds (Figure 3) .

Figure 3: Evolution of NBI population at Souss-Massa region before (blue) and after (pink) breeding
The gap between both figures some years reachs more than 100, meaning that a number of birds disperses outside the prospected area. 

It's worth to note that just after breeding, most ibis from Tamri region move to the limits of Souss-Massa National Park. In 2012 this displacement occurred even before, due to the failure of breeding at Tamri (Figure 4).


Figure 4: Monitoring of NBI numbers between 2011 and 2013

SMNP role is essential for the survival of the species. 

IV. Conclusion

NBI had a good breeding season, with a record of 113 breeding pairs, 148 fledglings and a rate of 1,3 fledgling/nest.
After this breeding season, the whole population at Souss-Massa region  has been evaluated at 443. 


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