Working for birds in Africa

Migration route of secretive Steppe Whimbrel discovered

Date posted: 
Monday, April 29, 2019

Steppe Whimbrel is the rarest & least known member of the threatened Numeniini tribe

Spot the difference: the Steppe Whimbrel is identified by its white underwings © Gary Allport

The Steppe Whimbrel is the rarest and least understood member of the highly threatened Numeniini tribe (curlews and godwits). But considering they were believed to be extinct 25 years ago, it’s unsurprising that we know so little about them. A newly published report is beginning to fill in the gaps in our knowledge.

The story of the Steppe Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus alboaxillaris is a bizarre one. There is a very real risk in conservation that birds can go extinct before we even know they exist, or know enough about them to make efforts to protect them. Very little was known about the Steppe Whimbrel – a rare sub-species of the Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus - before it was declared extinct in 1994. However, recent sightings have revealed the Steppe Whimbrel lives on, and we now have a second chance to research and rescue this enigmatic bird. Read more of this fascinating story here.

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