BirdLife steps in to save Sociable Lapwing
BirdLife has launched a new action plan to help save the Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarius, one of Eurasia's most threatened bird species. Its world population size has declined by approximately 95% within the last 15 years and may now be as small as 200 pairs. The Sociable Lapwing (also known as the Sociable Plover) now only breeds in northern Kazakhstan and bordering regions of Russia.
The population-crash of this steppe-dwelling species coincides with the political breakdown of the Soviet Union, which brought about considerable changes in land use. However, there is no clear evidence as to exactly what is causing the Sociable Lapwing's decline.
BirdLife is very concerned about the species' future. It recently began priority work on implementing an International Action Plan for the Sociable Lapwing, for the African Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA). This was initially developed in conjunction with ACBK (the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Kazakhstan), with support from NABU (BirdLife in Germany). Preliminary studies by ACBK and NABU in the central Kazakhstan Tengiz Lakes region, Kazakhstan's key Important Bird Area (IBA), have led to the discovery of two small colonies of Sociable Lapwings.
BirdLife, with support from RSPB (BirdLife in the UK), NABU, ACBK and the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, has developed a pilot project to investigate the species' decline and to implement the Action Plan. This year, the two remaining colonies will be studied intensively to identify their habitat needs and the reasons for their decline. Bird ringing will give further information on population size and movements. The results of the study will be used to develop a larger scale conservation research and management project in a bid to understand and halt the global decline of the Sociable Lapwing and its specific steppe habitat.