Climate change, shifting the breeding range of many European bird species northwards, is likely to lengthen the migrants' marathon journeys substantially, in some cases by hundreds of miles, a new scientific study predicts. The added distance is likely to make what are already hazardous and chancey long-distance flights even more risky, with possible fatal consequences for many birds.
The 2009 update highlights the plight of Sidamo Lark Heteromirafra sidamoensis. Found only in south-central Ethiopia, its global range was previously estimated at 760 km2 with a population size of almost 2,000 individuals. But studies in 2007-2008 by researchers from BirdLife, the University of Cambridge, Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society (BirdLife in Ethiopia) and University of East Anglia discovered that available habitat covered just 35 km2, and density estimates provided a global population estimate of only 90-256 adults, all found on the Liben plain.
The mice are also affecting Gough Island’s other Critically Endangered endemic species, Gough Bunting Rowettia goughensis. A recent survey of the bunting’s population revealed that the population has halved within the last two decades. Now there are only an estimated 400-500 pairs left.
But Gough is the stage for one of nature's greatest horror shows. One of those whaling boats, probably from Britain, carried a few house mice stowaways who jumped ship on Gough. Now there are 700,000 or more of them on the island, which is the size of Guernsey.
Through a series of regional and national workshops specifically tailored to the needs and requirements of the region, WetCap will provide training for conservation professionals from the five countries to improve the conservation status and management of waterbirds at key wetland sites. The project will also allocate small grants to local waterbird and wetland conservation projects.
“Their epic flights connect us all - crossing our borders, cultures and lives. However, we are destroying the habitat they need to rest and re-fuel, building hazardous structures such as powerlines which cross their path, and illegally shooting and trapping them", added Dr Lambertini.
The Wings Over Wetlands (WOW) Project has actually been fostering the cooperation between the site authorities on the ground in both Senegal and The Gambia, building the foundation for the transboundary protected area. Through the WOW Project, the Direction des Parcs Nationaux du Senegal, the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management of The Gambia, and The Wetlands International Africa Office in Dakar have developed and are now implementing an integrated transboundary management plan for the Saloum-Niumi Wetland Complex.
That modest addition to the forest’s Taita Thrush Turdus helleri population - which had been estimated at around 10 - represented a potential milestone for a species that is listed as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and whose total population is estimated at 1,350. It also marked the cumulative impact of years of conservation efforts in the Taita Hills.