The Lake Qarun Protected Area LCG/SSG was established by Nature Conservation Egypt (NCE; BirdLife Affiliate) in 2008, with a grant from the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation.
The lake occupies the deepest part of the Fayoum Depression, more than 40 metres below sea level. Once a large body of fresh water supporting Nilotic flora and fauna, the lake now receives almost all its water as drainage from irrigated land. As a result, and because the only ‘outflow’ is via evaporation, levels of salinity have been steadily increasing. The lake is now slightly more salty than seawater.
The project, subtitled ‘Linking African children to the global conservation community - for the benefit of nature and people’, combines biodiversity conservation with education and sustainable development initiatives, and uses bird conservation to help bridge the digital divide in Africa.
This comes against a backdrop of recent reports of problems facing vultures in Africa and the ongoing ones in Asia. Across the Indian subcontinent, populations of three formerly very common species of vulture have declined by more than 97% as a result of consuming cattle carcasses contaminated with the veterinary drug diclofenac.
“An advert for the supply of mining equipment, and a recent announcement of the expansion of the railway and building of a new port at Tanga to handle soda ash all point to deliberate efforts to keep alive the intention of mining Lake Natron's soda ash", added Lota Melamari.
On a couple of small lakes some 300 km north of Antananarivo are fewer than 20 Madagascar Pochard. Although once part of an extensive wetland system throughout the central plateau these are now the last remaining unmarred high elevation volcanic lakes of their kind.
Southern Africa's birdwatchers are making a massive contribution to one of the country's most important biodiversity research projects. Ornithologists and conservationists are tapping into the skills and enthusiasm of Southern Africa's birdwatchers to collect information about the distribution and relative abundance of its 850 or so bird species.
Conservationists fear that if nothing is done soon, the iconic African Penguin is in danger of becoming extinct. Oil spills, predation by seals, disease and a few other problems have contributed to the situation. But by far the major culprit is food scarcity, say scientists.