Working for birds in Africa


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Tanzania has one of the highest percentages of protected areas in the world. It has designated National Parks, Game Reserves, Game controlled areas, Forest Reserves, Nature Reserves and Wildlife Management Areas which in total amount to between 30% and 40% of the total area of the country.

It is a signatory to a number of international agreements including Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection and Wetlands.

In common with many African countries, there are numerous environmental issues which include soil degradation, deforestation, desertification, destruction of coral reefs which threatens marine habitats, recent droughts which have affected marginal agriculture and threats to wildlife by illegal hunting and trade, especially for ivory. A recent gold rush in Tanzania is threatening nature and forest reserves in the Eastern Arc, including the Amani Reserve ­ ABC Bulletin Vol 11 No 2 August 2004 p 96. 

A countrywide waterbird count is planned in January 2005 covering areas counted in 1995. The count is organised by the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute in conjunction with the BirdLife partner, the Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania.

A study to estimate the population size of Loveridge's Sunbird Cinnyris loveridgei, endemic to the Uluguru mountains, eastern Tanzania, was conducted in September ­ December 2000. Using mist-netting data and a computer simulation, the population was estimated at between 21,000 and 166,000 individuals ­ ABC Bulletin Vol 11 No 2 p 96.

A large project, which aims to develop a conservation strategy for the globally important Eastern Arc mountains and finance a trust for long-term conservation in these mountains, was launched in June 2002 in Dar es Salaam. The Tanzanian Forest Conservation and Management Project is funded by the Global Environment Facility and Danish International Development Aid, who committed close to US $40m.

The African Bird Club has awarded a small grant to permit forest habitat appraisal and baseline searches for globally threatened birds of the West Usambara mountains ­ ABC Bulletin Vol 11 No 2 p 101. 

Conservation News

12th May 2008: Tata withdraws Natron project ESIA Report

Tata Chemicals Ltd (TCL) has finally withdrawn the much discredited Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) Report for the proposed Lake Natron soda ash plant. The development has been opposed by national NGOs in Tanzania, the Lake Natron Consultative Group (a consortium of 32 mainly East African NGOs), BirdLife International and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB; BirdLife in the UK), for posing serious threats to the survival of Lesser Flamingos Phoeniconaias minor and the livelihoods of local communities.

In an apparent response to these concerns, the company told a stakeholder meeting hosted by the World Bank in Dar es Salaam last week that they had asked the Tanzanian government to disregard the earlier report. Mr Rahul Singh, the new TCL Project Manager, said: “We have turned down the earlier ESIA report and we have requested the government to throw away the original report as we are working on new studies on the matter.”

During the meeting - attended by a wide range of donors, media, government personalities and the private sector - Lota Melamari, the CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania (WCST, BirdLife in Tanzania) presented a strong case for the complete abandonment of the project in a presentation entitled "Flamingos of Lake Natron, a Tanzanian Treasure". In his talk, Lota described Natron’s vast flocks of shimmering pink flamingos as one of the world’s greatest wildlife attractions. “This resource must not be destroyed”, said Lota. At the same meeting the Tourism Services Manager of the Tanzania Tourist Board, Ms Serena Shao, warned that Tanzania may not achieve its tourism targets if key attractions are destroyed. “The soda ash proposal must be critically analysed given that Tanzania currently earns over 1billion US dollars from tourism. Our dream of attracting one million tourists by 2010 may not be achieved if we damage key attractions like Lake Natron “, she said.

In response to the investor’s withdrawal of the project, the new Environment Minister of Tanzania (Dr Batilda Burhani) called a press conference on 1 May 2008 and issued a government statement in which she warned that while the investors were free to conduct a fresh ESIA, they should be aware that unless their report satisfied environmental and social concerns, no approval would be granted. Dr Burhani further said that a new ESIA must be preceded by the development of an Integrated Management Plan for the Lake Natron Ramsar Site which  would spell out the future conservation and development agenda for the area.

BirdLife International, the RSPB and the Lake Natron Consultative Group welcome the investor’s decision to withdraw the initial ESIA report submitted to NEMC. We also laud the new Minister’s quick response and commend her for being responsive to stakeholders in general on this matter. However, we hold the view that Tata Chemicals Ltd and its Tanzanian partner the National Development Corporation should have withdrawn the project altogether. Shifting the project 32 km away from Lake Natron does not amount to “mitigation” of the serious impacts the project is likely to pose to the Lesser Flamingos and the local communities. The project impacts are not limited to the operations of the plant alone but the whole process of brine extraction (including an intricate network of pipes and roads on the surface of the lake as is the case at Lake Magadi in Kenya), pumping and processing.

In a related development, the Lake Natron Consultative Group of which the BirdLife Africa Partnership Secretariat is a member, has stepped up its advocacy campaign to save Lake Natron following the investors' announcement that the project will be shifted to a new site. The Group held an International Press conference in Nairobi last week and declared that it was opposed to the plans by the investor to continue with plans for development of the soda ash plant by shifting the site 32 km away from Lake Natron. “The Group plans to engage the organs of the East African Community in debate to prepare them for possible discussion of the matter by the Council of Ministers and to lobby the Speaker and Members of the East African Legislative Assembly to support the Group’s position” said The Group’s Coordinator, Ken Mwathe.

BirdLife International’s position still remains that the risks posed by the proposed project are extremely serious in relation to the Lesser Flamingos breeding and therefore urges the Tanzanian Government to reject the project altogether.

Source: BirdLife International

28th January 2008: Lake Natron local people reject proposed soda ash development

Local people from Lake Natron voiced their concerns at a public hearing held on 24 January to the proposed soda ash plant there which would threaten the world's largest population of Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor. “There is no need to accept a project that will later destroy us”, said the traditional chief from Pinyinyi, 

one of the villages adjacent to Lake Natron. He likened the development to "taking a fish and throwing it into the bush".

About 80-100 people, including representatives from communities from around the lake, attended the meeting in Dar es Salaam Tanzania and convened by the National Environment Management Council of Tanzania (NEMC). There was strong opposition to the proposed development. People representing local communities from around the lake lamented the lack of consultation in the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment. They think that the proposed factory would not deliver jobs for themselves as the plant would need educated and skilled workers. They fear that instead it would endanger employment gained from tourism which benefits many locals, including women who make and sell beadwork.

This meeting added further opposition to the development which the BirdLife International Partnership has been working against over the past six months. “We strongly believe that the cumulative impacts from the proposed facility have a high risk of causing extreme detriment to the Lesser Flamingo population should the project be allowed to be developed in Lake Natron area” said Mr. Lota Melamari, the CEO of WCST (BirdLife in Tanzania) at the public hearing.

The Lake Natron Consultative Group, which the BirdLife Africa Partnership is part of, rejected the project at the hearing. “The local community will lose their sources of livelihoods owing to over-use of water by the factory and their livestock economy risks being destroyed; but what will they get in return?” The Group insist that the best way to use the natural resources of Lake Natron is to enhance ecotourism which is already thriving.

Many other stakeholders, including the Journalists Environmental Association of Tanzania, the Lawyers Environmental Action team, the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators and the Ilkisongo Pastoralists Initiative, oppose the development. A fine artist based in Arusha said he was willing to compensate Government with proceeds from his sale of paintings of Lesser Flamingos.

In a further recent development, WCST with representatives from the BirdLife International Secretariat and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (BirdLife in the UK) briefed 22 of the 29 members of the Tanzania Parliamentary Committee on the Environment on Lake Natron. “This information will help us as we seek to understand the whole project and its implications and how to advise Government on the way forward” said the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee. The Committee also hopes to go to the site before giving their submissions to Parliament.

“It's our sincere hope that our Government will carefully analyse and hear all interested and affected stakeholders views before making a final decision on this issue” said Lota Melamari, CEO of WCST.

Source: BirdLife International

26th November 2007: Lake Natron chemical plant: region’s ecotourism “jeopardised”

The African Tourism and Travel Association has become the latest to voice concern over a huge chemical production plant proposed for Tanzania’s Lake Natron, the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) today report. Nigel Vere Nicholl, chairman of the African Tourism and Travel Association (ATTA), shares BirdLife’s concerns over the threat that the development poses to the region’s Lesser Flamingo and the growing ecotourism trade to which the birds are linked:

“Spectacular flocks of flamingos are one of the major attractions for tourists visiting the Great Rift Valley from all over the world. Given the massive contribution ecotourism makes to the East African economy, it just doesn’t make sense to jeopardise these wonderful birds and this very special and unspoilt place.  If this development goes ahead who knows what may happen next.” he said.

The number of tourists visiting Tanzania is expected to rise from 580,000 in 2004 to one million in 2010. Currently many are drawn to see the one million Lesser Flamingos that breed on Lake Natron each year – the so-called “greatest wildlife spectacle on Earth”.

Ecotourism in Tanzania and Kenya is worth US$2 billion annually while tourists visiting Lake Natron alone spend US$500,000 each year. Tanzania’s Lake Natron is the only East African site where the Lesser Flamingo nests successfully. Three quarters of the world’s population of this enigmatic bird breed there because food is plentiful, nesting sites abound and because the lake exists in almost total isolation, free from outside disturbance.

The announcement from the African Tourism and Travel Association forms part of what has become a global campaign opposing the proposed development. The campaign is supported by BirdLife Partners worldwide and influential voices like Sir David Attenborough.  “If Lake Natron is developed, East Africa will no longer be such a lure for tourists. But it is the whole of the world that will be the loser. This is much more than just the loss of a few birds.” said the RSPB’s Chief Executive, Graham Wynne.

Source: BirdLife

3rd November 2007: Flamingo threat put on temporary hold.

A temporary lifeline has been thrown to the one million Lesser Flamingos of Tanzania’s Lake Natron, threatened by huge industrial development on their most important breeding site in the world.

The plan to build a soda ash plant on the lake, in northern Tanzania in the Great Rift Valley, has been thrown out for now and the developers, Lake Natron Resources, have been ordered to produce a new and better environmental statement and consider other sites for soda ash extraction. The firm is jointly owned by the Indian company TATA Chemicals and the Tanzanian Government.

Dr Mike Rands, Chief Executive of BirdLife, said: “The proposal to develop Lake Natron for soda ash extraction is misguided and the decision today is a victory for conservation and for common sense.“The flamingos are not safe yet. The developers should choose another location for extracting soda ash and abandon their plans for Lake Natron”.

Groups reporting to Tanzania’s environment ministry called time early on today’s meeting to assess the developer’s obligatory environmental assessment for the soda ash plant. Of the 14 bodies present, including conservation groups, national parks and the EU, representing donors, most said the development should be rejected because of the risk of driving away the flamingos, harming other species and irreversibly damaging Lake Natron, which is protected by international law.

Lota Melamari, Chief Executive of the Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania, who was at today’s meeting said: 'The survival of the lesser flamingo must not be jeopardised.”

Source: BirdLife

30th October 2007: Lesser Flamingos - BirdLife’s urgent call to Think Pink.

Today sees the launch of BirdLife’s Think Pink campaign, a response to the growing and urgent threat facing a crucial breeding site for Africa’s Lesser Flamingos. Tanzania’s Lake Natron is the only East African site where the Lesser Flamingo nests successfully. Three quarters of the world’s population of this enigmatic bird breed there because food is plentiful, nesting sites abound and because the lake exists in almost total isolation, free from outside disturbance.

In recent months however, the Tanzanian Government and the Indian company Tata Chemicals have together put forward proposals to build a large-scale soda ash plant on the lakeside, internationally recognised as a Ramsar wetland site and Important Bird Area by BirdLife.

BirdLife International believes the development and associated infrastructure –as plans currently stand- could do irreversible damage to the global population of this, one of Africa's most charismatic birds. BirdLife is therefore fully opposed to the development, and is calling for supporters – members of BirdLife Partners, journalists or concerned members of the public- to lend their voice to the global ‘Think Pink’ campaign.

There isn’t much time to act: Lake Natron Resources Limited (a joint venture of the Tanzanian Government and Tata Chemicals) have now submitted a revised version of their Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) to Tanzania’s National Environment Management Council, who will in turn make recommendations to Tanzania’s Minister of State in the Vice-Presidents Office, for Environment. This is expected to take place on November 2nd 2007.

Source: BirdLife

30th October 2007: Vulture-killing drug now on sale in Africa

BirdLife's Council for the African Partnership has warned African BirdLife Partners that they need to be on high alert, following the discovery of the drug Diclofenac on sale at a veterinary practice in Tanzania. A survey by WCST (WildLife Conservation Society in Tanzania, BirdLife in Tanzania) is underway to establish the full facts.

Diclofenac, a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID), has been found to cause gout and renal failure in vultures of the Gyps genus. In India, where Diclofenac was in widespread veterinary use, three Gyps species, formerly of Least Concern, have been pushed to Critically Endangered status, losing over 99 percent of their populations in just over a decade.

“This development could be absolutely catastrophic for vultures in Africa if it is not addressed immediately, to prevent this avian killer from becoming an established veterinary drug,” said Jane Gaithuma of the BirdLife Africa secretariat. “Research by BirdLife Partners has established that there are safe alternative drugs available, such as Meloxicam, so there is actually no need for Diclofenac at all.”

Without action by governments and veterinary associations to ban the use of Diclofenac for veterinary purposes, the drug is likely to be very difficult to control. Since the patent for the drug expired, it has been produced in generic form by hundreds of manufacturers worldwide, and is sold under dozens of different names. The manufacturer of the brand found in Tanzania exports the drug for veterinary use to 15 African countries spread across the continent.

Governments in the Indian subcontinent have belatedly taken action. At a meeting of the National Wildlife Board in March 2005, the Government of India announced that it intended to phase out the veterinary use of Diclofenac within six months. In 2006, the governments of India, Pakistan and Nepal all banned manufacture of Diclofenac, sending a very clear signal, and it is hoped that full retail bans will soon follow. But numbers are already so low that the future of White-rumped Gyps bengalensis, Indian Gyps indicus and Slender-billed Vultures Gyps tenuirostris now depends on captive breeding programmes. Gyps vultures take several years to reach sexual maturity, and a pair produces only one or two young every one or two years, so it will take decades before any of these species is likely to come off the Critical list.

Africa's vultures already face terrible pressures, and several species formerly of Least Concern were added to the 2007 Red List of threatened species. Veterinary use of Diclofenac in Africa could quickly put the Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres (VU) in even greater danger of extinction, and further threaten Rueppell's Griffon Vulture Gyps rueppellii (NT), White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus (NT) and Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus (LC). Gyps vultures are very wide ranging, and exposure to Diclofenac in a single carcass in any one of their range states could prove fatal to whole populations, threatening the more common species as well as the already rare ones. NSAID toxicity has been reported for raptors, storks, cranes and owls, suggesting that the potential adverse conservation impact of NSAIDs may extend beyond Gyps vultures, and could include Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus (EN), White-headed Vulture Trigonoceps occipitalis (VU) and Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotus (VU).

In contrast, there are no reported mortalities for Meloxicam, which has been administered to over 700 birds from 60 species, with safety tests carried out.

BirdLife Partners are called upon to work with relevant authorities and other conservationists to assess whether Diclofenac is in veterinary use in their country, and where this is the case to stop/ban it. In countries where Diclofenac is not yet in veterinary use, it will be important to work with government authorities and civil society to alert people of its danger and to ensure it becomes pre-emptively banned. All BirdLife supporters in Africa can play a part, by checking their local veterinary outlets to see if the drug is on sale, and by contacting the government and other authorities to call for a total ban.

Source: BirdLife

18th October 2007: Africa’s leading conservationists meet as chemical plant threatens three-quarters of world’s Lesser Flamingo.

Leading conservationists from 23 African nations have today met to sign a petition opposing the proposed chemical plant on the shores of Tanzania’s Lake Natron, which threatens 75% of the world’s Lesser Flamingo. The petition was signed by delegates of BirdLife’s Council for the Africa Partnership (CAP) in Nairobi and follows months of speculation and international outcry over the proposed salt ash development on Tanzania’s border with Kenya.

More than half a million pairs of Lesser Flamingos may nest at Lake Natron. The lake is the only reliable breeding site for the species' East African population – more than 75 per cent of the world’s total. Lake Natron's isolation and vast salt flats provide crucial safety from predators, while its alkaline waters, rich in cyanobacteria, and lakeside springs supply food and freshwater for parents and chicks. The lake supports the huge concentrations of Lesser Flamingos that feed and roost on other lakes up and down the Rift Valley, hailed as “the greatest ornithological spectacle in the world” and supporting a thriving tourist economy.

The proposed salt ash plant would pump 530 cubic metres of brine per hour and produce 0.5 million tons of sodium carbonate a year. The large-scale development would also include a sizable residential complex.

Delegates attending the BirdLife Council Meeting fear that the entire flamingo population could be lost if the development goes ahead, citing a number of reasons, including: likely changes in the chemical composition of the water (affecting the cyanobacteria on which the flamingos depend); disruption of nest sites; and expansion of surrounding infrastructure, a factor which could bring in new predators, particularly Marabou Stork – a species linked to mass nest desertions in breeding Greater Flamingo.

Much has been made of the Tanzanian government’s role in the final decision: “As a continent, Africa is making great strides towards conserving its immense biodiversity,” said the Head of BirdLife’s Africa Division, Dr Hazell Shokellu Thompson. “Tanzania must think clearly of what this decision on Lake Natron says of its environmental credentials, and to the other twenty-four nations which are represented here at this meeting today.” "This is a clear opportunity for the Tanzanian government to continue showing moral and environmental responsibility in Africa by taking a decision not to proceed with the Soda Ash development." The petition, signed by conservationists from 23 African nations, will now be sent to the Tanzanian government and Tata Chemicals.

Source: BirdLife International

4th July 2007: Soda ash development threatens entire East African Lesser Flamingo population.

A proposed development near Tanzania’s border with Kenya, threatens the survival of the entire East African population of Lesser Flamingo Phoenicopterus minor. Lake Natron - the only East African site in which Lesser Flamingo has bred in the past 45 years – currently faces an uncertain future due to a proposed Soda Ash extraction and processing plant. Lake Natron is recognised internationally as a Ramsar site, and as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International.

The proposed Soda Ash development will pump 530 cubic metres of brine per hour and produce and export 0.5 million tons of sodium carbonate a year. There may also be a 11.5 Megawatts thermal power facility using coal and petcoke, and a potentially sizeable residential complex, with 152 permanent and 1,225 construction staff members expected on site. In compliance with Tanzania’s environmental laws, in 2006 TATA Chemicals (on behalf of the proponent, Lake Natron Resources Limited) commissioned a consultant to carry out an Environmental Impact Assesment (EIA) for the proposed development.

In addition to Tanzania, the consultant also carried out further consultations with interested and affected parties in Kenya, due to the project’s vicinity to the Kenyan border as well as the dependence of Lake Natron on Kenya's Ewaso Ngiro River.

The outcomes of these consultations are yet to be made public, although indications suggest that the first draft of the EIA will be presented at a workshop in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) on 12 July, 2007. Conservationists await the outcome; their main concern being that the EIA process, including scrutiny of the draft, should be made participatory and take in the views of all relevant stakeholders.

“It is important that whatever decisions are made do not jeopardise the survival of the Lesser Flamingo, a key component of the tourist experience in East African national parks,” said Mr. Lota Melamari, CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania (WCST, BirdLife in Tanzania), before highlighting how important it is for the EIA to be disclosed to all stakeholders interested.

In September 2006, experts met at the BirdLife Africa Partnership Secretariat office to start the process of drafting the International Lesser Flamingo Species Action Plan under the auspices of the Convention on Migratory Species and AEWA (the African-European Migratory Waterbird Agreement). At the time the experts involved declared: “the most critical threat to the survival of the Lesser Flamingo to be the loss and / or degradation of its specialised habitat through altered hydrology and water quality”.

According to a spokesperson from BirdLife's Africa Division: “Any declines in the breeding of Lesser Flamingos at this site could effectively push the species rapidly towards extinction.” “The Lesser Flamingo is globally classified as 'Near Threatened' in the 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species,” said Dr. Brooks Childress, Chair of the IUCN-SSC (Species Survival Commission); Wetlands International Flamingo Specialist Group. “Over 75% of the species’ global population occurs in the Great Rift Valley of East Africa. There appears to be very little interchange between this large sub-population and other smaller Lesser Flamingo regional populations.The East African sub-population has bred only on Lake Natron for the past 45 years, effectively making Lake Natron the only breeding site for over 75% of the global population. “The Lesser Flamingo is very sensitive to water levels and disturbance during breeding. Changes in water level, water chemistry or disturbance could easily cause the birds to abandon their breeding attempt.” he added.

A group of concerned organisations and stakeholders within the region, including WCST and NatureKenya (both BirdLife Partners), have joined hands with other conservation groups in pushing for the EIA outcomes to be disclosed to all stakeholders and for a full participatory process. Lesser Flamingo breeding in such enormous numbers has been referred to as the “greatest ornithological spectacle in the world” by the renowned artist and naturalist Roger Tory Peterson. The local extinction of Lesser Flamingo at the site is therefore predicted to have a devastating impact on the tourism industry that has become the backbone of local economy in the two countries.

Source: BirdLife International News

23rd March 2007: Uluguru Bush-Shrike found over the limit

Until January this year, a single doubtful record from 1981 was the only evidence for the presence of Critically Endangered Uluguru Bush-Shrike Malaconotus alius in the Uluguru South Forest Reserve, which was believed to be above its normal altitudinal limit. Repeated surveys had failed to find it.

Now a team from Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania (WCST, BirdLife Partner in Tanzania), having repeatedly sighted the bird in the Uluguru South Forest Reserve, has evidence that suggests the bush-shrikes are breeding there.

In 1999-2000, a census supported by WCST estimated a population of 1,200 pairs. The bulk of the population is in the 84 km2 Uluguru North Forest Reserve and an adjacent area, which still holds a good tract of flat forest at 1,200-1,500 metres.

The Uluguru North and South Forest Reserves are separated by the Bunduki Gap (1.5km), thought by many to be a potential obstacle to movements of Uluguru Bush-Shrike, a canopy-reliant bird. Jasson John of WCST, who led the survey team, says that on 24 January 2007 at 8:25 am, a pair of bush-shrikes was attracted by playback of their calls to a census point at an altitude of 1,739 metres. "The area is the nearest part of Uluguru South to the Uluguru North Reserve, and has almost the same forest structure as that within Uluguru North. This was about 3.4 kilometres from the nearest record of the Uluguru Bush-Shrike in Uluguru North."

Later that morning the team heard another Uluguru Bush-Shrike about 400 metres from the first pair.  "This time it was the highest record of our survey in terms of altitude, at 1,885 metres." Between 23 and 28 February, Jasson, with WCST’s Elias Mungaya, returned to Uluguru South at the same census point.  "We were aiming to catch the original pair, so we put mist-nets up in the tree canopy, and attracted the birds by playing back their calls." But they refused to be caught. "On two occasions one flew into but bounced back out of the mist-nets, and on another occasion one was trying to attack a Loveridge's Sunbird, another of Uluguru's endemics, that was caught in the nets."

The pair rarely came to the playback together. A month before, the birds had always been seen together. Jasson has an explanation: "we think the female was probably sitting on a nest." The team from WCST was supported by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF).

Source: BirdLife International

23rd October 2006: The Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania (WCST, BirdLife in Tanzania) organised two birdwatching expeditions to the North Uluguru Mountains and Pugu Forests Important Bird Areas (IBAs), as part of the World Bird Festival celebrations.

The Uluguru team was lucky to see Uluguru Bush-Shrike Malaconotus alius, a Critically Endangered species endemic to the Uluguru Mountains. “These expeditions will help raise conservation awareness amongst local people in the Uluguru Mountains and Pugu Forests," said Elias Mungaya, a participant on the Uluguru trip. "Both places are suffering from human encroachment,” he added.

Source: Birdlife International news

4th May 2006: Record bird numbers slip towards extinction

BirdLife's annual evaluation of how the world's bird species are faring shows that the total number considered threatened with extinction is now 1,210. When combined with the number of Near Threatened species this gives a record total of 2,005 species in trouble – more than a fifth of the planet’s 9,799 total species.

A species now regarded as Critically Endangered is the Uluguru Bush-shrike Malaconotus alius, from the Uluguru Mountains of Tanzania. Repeated surveys in the 1990s found that the species is restricted to the small Uluguru North Forest Reserve, which is suffering from ongoing habitat degradation. Loveridge's Sunbird Nectarinia loveridgei, also only found in the Ulugurus, has also been uplisted (to Endangered) to reflect its continuing decline.

Source: BirdLife International News

23rd February 2006: Tanzanian Government endorses conservation projects. 64 projects launched to protect Tanzania and Kenya's threatened forests and species.

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and four East African organisations today announced the launch of a portfolio of conservation projects in the Eastern Arc Mountains and Coastal Forests. These projects aim to significantly improve the conservation of Kenya and Tanzania’s rich natural resources.

During the launch, the Government of Tanzania's Forestry and Beekeeping Division signed an important Memorandum of Understanding with Conservation nternational, which administers CEPF. The Forestry and Beekeeping Division of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Government of Tanzania are the owners of over 200 forest reserves in the Eastern Arc and Coastal forests of Tanzania. The agreement outlines how CEPF's investment can contribute information and training to support the Forestry and Beekeeping Division's management of these reserves.

"This agreement is an important step towards ensuring that the results of CEPF's investment are properly integrated into management decisions for Tanzania's forests," stated Nike Doggart from the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group.

Source: BirdLife International News

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