Tuesday 27 December 2011

News on Nader

As recently, Aylal is still in the southern part of Souss-Massa National ParkNader, on its side, is in the north half but between 24th and 26th it went to the Taghazout area, north to Agadir. The accuracy ot its tag doesn't allow us to know where exactly it went, but it confirms that the narrow coastal steppe north to Agadir is very important for Northern Bald Ibis during some periods of the year.
Nevertheless, Nader returned to the area around Massa mouth on 26th.

Sunday 25 December 2011

A documentary about surf

During last Cinema International Festival of Gijón Juan Díaz-Faes was awarded for his documentary Eremita Stew ¿un documental de surf?.
Northern Bald Ibis was inspiring for the documentary as well as for some illustrations, as we show here.

Juan does not only make films but he's also an illustrator contribution to a series of publications.

The coast where NBI live are also very frequented by surfers and places like Imsouanne, Aourir, Tamraght or Taghazout are well known for this sport.

Saturday 24 December 2011


As far as we know, just two studies have been made on Northern Bald Ibis genetics. They approache two different levels: 
- the differences between eastern and western populations
- the differences between an extinct and an extant populations in Morocco.

The first of them (Pegoraro et al., 2001) examined two segments of the mitochondrial genome of Moroccan and Turkish Bald Ibises. One point mutation was consistently discovered in a 307 bp (base pairs) portion of the cytochrome b gene (widely used in phylogenetics and population genetics) . This mutation was population specific, that is, it shows differences of an isolation of both populations. This finding has big consequences for the conservation of the highly endangered species and reinforces the idea that in captive breeding and releasing programmes, only birds of known origin should be used. Some physical differences had been previously detected.

The other work analysed 882bp of mitochondrial DNA control region sequence from 30 individuals, 19 wild birds from recent mortalities (1996 onwards) in the Souss-Massa area and eleven founders from Rabat Zoo. Those last birds were caught from the Middle Atlas Mountains in 1976-77.
The sequencing revealed 15 closely related haplotypes (groups of DNA that is transmitted together), nine from Souss-Massa and eight from Rabat with only two haplotypes shared at low frequency between these two populations.  Preliminary analyses indicate that these two populations are significantly different on haplotype frequencies.  That is, the Souss colony and the now extinct Middle Atlas colonies were demographically isolated exchanging few individuals. 
Those preliminary results were very interesting.
The Middle Atlas colonies have either gone extinct in situ or emigrated to the Souss-Massa colony.  The genetic data is inconsistent with a mass influx of birds into this last population because, if this were the case, the two colonies should share more haplotypes. 
Most of the captive population of northern bald ibis around the world originates from collections made from the Middle Atlas colonies. That means that the genetic resources of this extinct population are well represented in captivity, but Souss-Massa population probably is not.
It is very important to develop deeper and wider studies including captive populations of known origin and also skins and other biological material in scientific collections. This will allow to improve our knowledge of the relationship among the extinct and the extant populations.

Broderick, D. & Korrida, A. 2001. Latest genetic evidence for historical population structuring among colonies of Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita) in Morocco. In Bowden, C. I.A.G.N.B.I. Newsletter 1.
Pegoraro, K. ; Föger, M. & Parson, W. 2001. First evidence of mtDNA sequence differences between Northern Bald Ibises (Geronticus eremita) of Moroccan and Turkish origin. Journal of Ornithology, 142 (4): 425–28.

Friday 23 December 2011

BirdLife Species Guardians

from http://www.birdlife.org/extinction/guardians.html

Mahmoud Abdullah
A Critically Endangered Northern Bald Ibis is 
fitted with a satellite transmitter in Syria. 
Central to the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme is the appointment of Species Guardians who take the lead in conserving a globally threatened species in their country or region. Their primary role is to take and encourage greater conservation action for their species, working with national and local governments, other concerned individuals, organisations and local communities. BirdLife will appoint and support organisations and individuals from across the world - leaders in their field willing to take on this new global challenge. In addition to undertaking conservation work themselves, the Species Guardians will also monitor the status of the species, track the implementation and effect of actions taken, and report back to BirdLife on these each year.

Priority is given to the recruitment of and support to Species Guardians for globally threatened species that are Critically Endangered and are most urgently in need of conservation attention. The actions required vary from species to species, depending on the threats they face, and typically include habitat and site conservation, control of hunting and trapping, tackling invasive alien species, education and awareness-raising, building local community and government support, as well as research and monitoring.
BirdLife provides these Species Guardians with technical support, training, and the investment of funds for conservation action, based on mutually agreed Species Guardian Project Plans. BirdLife also supports the Species Guardiansthrough liaison with decision-makers and governments, and raising awareness through ensuring coverage of their conservation work by the world’s media.

BirdLife’s cutting-edge global science work ensures Species Guardians operate with objectivity and adhere to clear global priorities, and that systems are in place to measure success. BirdLife’s unique global structure, including its regional program offices and in-country Partners, will ensure that Species Guardians are never far from technical help and moral and practical support.
To download the Species Guardians information fact sheet click here (PDF 444KB) or for Spanish version click here (PDF 371KB).
To find out about the latest conservation news from Species Guardians read the Guardian action updates.

Tuesday 20 December 2011

BirdLife International Species Champions

Taking a stand and making a difference...
BirdLife Species Champions are a growing community of companies, institutions and individuals that support the conservation which prevents bird extinctions.
As well as providing the funding that brings threatened birds back from the brink of extinction, Species Champions also draw attention to the plight of the species they support and all the other threatened species the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme embraces.
Saving threatened birds from extinction is neither simple nor straightforward. It is often expensive and always takes time. BirdLife Species Champions recognise this and are taking a stand now in the knowledge they are providing a last hope for the world’s most threatened birds.
100% of your money is used where it matters most...
When you or your organisation becomes a Species Champion you can be assured your support is quickly channelled where it is needed most. 100% of every contribution goes to help prevent extinctions.
In addition to funding BirdLife Species Guardians who carry out conservation on the ground, a small proportion of every contribution also helps protect the ‘orphaned’ species for which no champion has yet stepped forward. In this way we are putting conservation in place where it doesn’t exist today - before it is too late.
For many Critically Endangered birds time is running out...
Recruiting new BirdLife Species Champions is imperative. The average annual cost of turning around the fortunes of a Critically Endangered Species is over £20,000. It also requires sustained investment which is why we are asking all our Species Champions to make a three year commitment.
It is possible to support the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme at several different levels. Major donors can become a Species Champion for a Critically Endangered bird, or support the entire Birdlife Preventing Extinctions Programme. It is also possible to become a BirdLife Species Champion, supporting the programme, at lower funding levels.
It’s a cliché, but every little does help...
Any contribution, whatever size, makes a difference. Together, the many smaller donations we have already received are collectively funding species recovery already.
Join with us now so that together we can turn the tide on bird extinctions and give otherwise condemned species like Siberian Crane, Bengal Florican and Spoon-billed Sandpiper, a last chance to avoid becoming just a distant memory for ourselves and unimaginable for our children. 
To find out how to become a Birdlife Species Champion or Preventing Extinctions Programme Supporter please contact us today:
Telephone:             +44 1223 277 318      
Or write to us at BirdLife Species Champions, BirdLife International,Welbrook Court, Girton Road Cambridge, CB3 ONA, United Kingdom.

Species Champion for NBI is HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco

Monday 19 December 2011

Data from Aylal and Nader for the first two weeks in December

Since the beginning of December, Aylal and Nader have stayed inside the Souss-Massa National Park. They are, nevertheless, separate most of the time, judging by the records received from their transmitters. Nader is in the north part of SMNP and Aylal is just south of the Massa river mouth. 
The field data show that the birds are moving in flocks of about thirty.

Thursday 15 December 2011

BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme

Birds are disappearing forever…
The natural rate of bird extinction is one bird per century. In the last thirty years alone, 21 bird species have become extinct. At present, 189 are classified as Critically Endangered. On the very edge of extinction. Without immediate action, many will not be here in ten years’ time.
The BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme can save them…
To prevent more species being lost, we have launched the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme. The BirdLife International Partnership is a global network of independent nature conservation organisations operating in more than 100 countries. We are able to operate across borders and beyond politics. We really make a difference.
We’re best placed to help…
BirdLife’s work to evaluate and monitor the status of the world’s bird species began many years ago. We now know the threats that face every globally threatened bird, and the main conservation actions required to protect them.
Species Guardians undertake the conservation…
The BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme is already delivering active conservation. To ensure the right protection is put into place we are appointing Species Guardians for each threatened species – organisations or individuals best placed to protect the bird. Find out the Latest news from the field.
Species Champions fund the work…
Preventing extinctions is neither quick nor cheap and BirdLife International relies entirely on charitable donations. We are actively recruiting Species Champions. These are a growing community of Companies, Institutions and Individuals who share our concerns and demonstrate their commitment to protecting the planet’s natural heritage by funding the work undertaken by our Species Guardians.
Help save birds today…
Species Champions are urgently needed. If you’d like to become a Species Champion please click here. If you’d like to make a donation to the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme please click here. The first Species Champions have already stepped forward - click here to view our roll of honour.
Download the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme brochure here (PDF 450KB). For Spanish version click here (PDF 609KB).
Download the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme Annual Report here (PDF 2.5MB)
To find out more about the science underpinning the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme click here

Monday 12 December 2011

Last data on the Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita) in Algeria

A contribution by Amina FELLOUS 
Agence Nationale pour la Conservation de la Nature

The National Agency for Nature Conservation (ANN) works to study and monitor threatened species of fauna and one of our latest projects is investigating the last breeding site of the NBI in Algeria.

Current data on the NBI in Algeria:
Morocco and Algeria have been recognised over the last few decades as being important sites for the NBI but there was very little data on the current status of this species in Algeria.
The NBI is classified as a critically endangered species. At the international level, the main threats are:
 - Direct persecution
 - The use of pesticides (antilocust campaigns in Morocco and DDT in Turkey)
- Disturbance and loss of foraging areas due to human activities
- Disturbance of breeding sites

In Algeria, most of the data on the historic distribution of birds or colonies date back to the 1950's, when a dozen NBI colonies were known to exist in semi-arid zones of the country. Another colony was discovered by ornithologists in 1974, in the north-west  of the country, in the El Bayadh region, which persisted until the 1990's. 

Recent distribution of Northern Bald Ibis in Algeria

Our research started in 2000 and focused on this site, aiming to establish the main causes of the NBI decline in the region. Our investigations involved local people, to get as much information as possible on this bird and also to get their perspective on the rehabilitation of the NBI in the area.

Data from the questionnaire: 
We designed 20 different questions to ask the older members of the main tribes living near the nesting site in the El Bayadh region. The tribes were Ouled Aissa, Zwa and Ould Moumen. These questionnaires were carried out by technical staff from the UCD (Conservation and Development Unit) in El Bayadh.
The questions related to:
- Past and/or recent distribution of the species
- Data on species biology (e.g. arrival/departure periods, the use of foraging areas)
- Main causes of declining numbers (hunting, predation, drought etc)

First results

The most interesting result from the questionnaires have revealed that in Autumn 2004, two NBI were seen flying at Thiet Ould Moumen, two km north of the last known breeding site for this species.

Habitat around the last nesting site

The symbolism of the species
The older people who were interviewed referred to the NBI as Aicha El Garaa, which translates as Aicha the Bald. Their responses to the questions confirmed the symbolic value of this bird and its' relation to religious beliefs on the region, as the birds choiced nesting sites facing Mecca. 
As the species disappeared during the 1990s, when political events disrupted the country, the presence of the NBI was seen by the local people as a symbol of peace, serenity and richness. 

Species Biology
- NBI generally arrived in the area towards the end of Winter (February and beginning of March) and departed around the end of the summer. 
- Juveniles arrived and left with the adults
- The birds arrived and left in large groups
- Foraging areas were always located close to the breeding site or close to water
- No data on the reproductive biology of the NBI were obtained from the questionnaires (start of nesting period, number of eggs etc)

Estimation of Numbers: 
- The colonies were composed of 300-400 birds and the initial signs of population declines were noted in the 1950's
- The last birds (12-18 individuals) were observed up until the end of the 1980's

Northern bald ibis ar El Bayadh, spring 1985 (photo  Koen De Smet)
Causes of the Declines:
- Direct hunting of the birds by French soldiers during the French occupation
 (El Bayadh city was a garrison town)
- Persistant periods of drought during the 1970's and 1980's 
- Divine causes were also mentioned by the local people

Other causes which were suggested to the local people but which they didn't agree with:

- Natural predation at nesting sites by raptors or corvids
- Disease
- Disturbance due to the cliff being used as a hermitage site 

- Loss of foraging areas due to overgrazing
- The use of supposed pesticides in the region
- The impact of new agricultural activities close to the breeding site

Last nesting site

The last question asked the opinion of the local people on reintroducing the NBI to the region: all the answers were very positive and some people put themselves forward as protectors of Aicha the Bald, a role which their ancestors had taken on in the past. 

Conservation and rehabilitation of the NBI in Algeria
NBI is a protected bird in Algeria, although  there is no current national action plan for its protection. Nevertheless, with  the recent data we are opbtimistic and looking forward the "the return" of the NBI.

This bird can be used as a symbol of peace and prosperity for the region and the country as a whole.

We have several ideas to focus further on this important, threatened bird in Algeria, by:
- Attracting local ornithologists and encouraging them to consider the NBI as a research priority.
- Establishing a national action plan for the rehabilitation of the species through an objective and scientific evaluation of the current status of the NBI in Algeria
- Researching further information and investigating other possible nesting sites
- Collaborating with laboratories, specialised institutions, local government, local and national NGO's - IUCN, Birdlife, IAGNBI etc
(More information in French)


Note:  Between December 2004 and March 2005 there were reports of some untagged NBI in  Avila and Cáceres provinces, Spain, and the origin of the birds has been under discussion. 

Thursday 8 December 2011

Aylal and Nader in the south of Souss-Massa National Park

Since mid-November, our ibis have established themselves more or less in the southern area of Souss-Massa National Park, occasionally visiting the coastal area outside the protected area. Over the last week they have both established themselves in a roosting place south of the Oued Massa mouth. The entire southern area of the park is made up of cliffs, most of them inaccessible, where ibis can easily find places to spend the night. Both birds are feeding in the neighbouring fields, not far from the roost.

Thursday 1 December 2011

NBI on Angry Birds

Get Angry – Fight Extinction!

Rovio Entertainment Ltd, world-leading entertainment media company and creator of the unprecedented global gaming phenomenon Angry Birds, has launched a remarkable new Angry Birds campaigning website today in support of The BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.
The new Angry Birds website encourages millions of fans to play the latest version of Angry Birds for Chrome online, to get angry about extinctions and to make a donation – providing vital help for ‘the world’s 189 angriest birds’ – those which BirdLife International classifies as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
In addition to requesting donations, the new website encourages and helps Angry Birds’ fans to find out more about the extraordinary globally threatened species the BirdLife International Partnership is taking conservation action for today. Ten of BirdLife’s flagship Preventing Extinctions projects are highlighted and fans are also encouraged to stay in touch with BirdLife news and activities by becoming BirdLife Facebook Friends.
“We are delighted to support BirdLife International with this new Angry Birds initiative”, said Peter Vesterbacka – Rovio’s Mighty Eagle and CMO. “We are pleased to be in a position to help such important conservation action and anticipate our loyal fans will respond very positively to our Angry Birds call to Get Angry and Fight Back”.
“This is a very exciting opportunity for BirdLife”, said Jim Lawrence – BirdLife International’s Preventing Extinctions Programme Manager. “We are thrilled to be Angry Birds’ charity of choice and we look forward to seeing how this exciting campaign develops and our future relationship evolves”.
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