The project is seeking to support eight biodiversity-rich African countries to meet the Convention on Biological Diversity’s target to ‘achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth’. BirdLife Partners are currently achieving this by developing accurate, cost-effective and robust methods to monitor biodiversity in Protected Areas (PA) and Important Bird Areas (IBAs).
IBAs are key sites for the conservation of birds and other biodiversity, and have been identified all over the world using BirdLife International’s objective and scientific criteria. Over 1,200 IBAs have been identified in Africa; many of which are threatened by habitat degradation and a lack of legal protection.
The team were browsing Google Earth – freely available software providing global satellite photography – to search for potential wildlife hotspots. A nearby road provided the first glimpses of a wooded mountain topped by bare rock. However, only by using Google Earth could the scientists observe the extent of woodland on the other side of the peak. This was later discovered to be the locally known, but unmapped, Mount Mabu. Scientific collections and literature also failed to shed light on the area.
The Birds Directive forbids trapping in EU member states. During Accession Treaty negotiations prior to joining the EU in 2004, Malta negotiated a five year phasing out period for the practise of trapping. This period expired at the end of 2008, and according to these agreements, 2009 will be the first year that trapping should be banned in Malta.
Historical records estimate that millions of penguins used to occur on Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island, but, declines (of more than 90%) have dramatically reduced their numbers in the last half century.
These little transmitters have not been on sale so far. No other birds have apparently been tracked over such a long distance with the few experimental transmitters of this size produced by Microwave Telemetry, Inc.
The bird which had been trapped near the nest in August had reared young and continued to behave normally after fitting the transmitter. Before arriving in Zimbabwe, the bird spent a long time in southern Angola.
Sooty Falcons breed in scattered, highly localised colonies in the Middle East and time their breeding to coincide with the autumn migration of small birds. Most of the population winters in Madagascar where they hunt large insects.
The Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) fitted the Sooty Falcon with a satellite transmitter at its nest on islands in the Sila Peninsula, Abu Dhabi. H.E Majid Al Mansouri, Secretary General of EAD, expressed his pride and reiterated the importance of such scientific studies.
“We were carefully fitting the swallows with rings so we can monitor their movements when we spotted a bird already carrying one”, said Mount Moreland bird-ringer Andrew Pickles. “A magnifying glass provided the words Helsinki - Finland!”
The Barn Swallow undertakes one of the world’s most remarkable migrations, with many individuals flying thousands of miles in spring to breed in Europe and then repeating the feat in the autumn, to spend the boreal winter in southern Africa.
The equipment has numerous sophisticated functions, including pan, tilt and zoom, so close-up images of chicks hatching out of eggs, parents feeding their chicks, and many other aspects of the previously unseen breeding behaviour of Lesser Flamingos are now available to wildlife enthusiasts around the world. Infrared lights allow for 24 hour / day viewing, and a microphone allows one to hear the hustle and bustle of life in the flamingo colony. On the website, one can either see live-streaming images or static images which are refreshed every ten seconds.
The scientists found what they believe are three new species of butterfly, a previously undiscovered adder snake and new populations of rare birds. They also expect to find new plants among the hundreds of specimens they have brought back with them. Photographs from the trip - published here for the first time - show just part of the forest, tropical creepers, giant snakes such as the gaboon viper, and other wilodlife seen by the team, including small klipspringer and blue duiker antelope, noisy samango monkeys, elephant shrew, and the granite-like rocky peak of Mount Mabu.