“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.
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.