Editorial: News from the BirdLife Partnership, March 2007
Welcome to this month’s Editorial; an opportunity for us to summarise events and stories coming from BirdLife International - the world’s largest alliance of conservation organisations.
March 2007 was memorable for discoveries: newly discovered wintering sites for Sociable Lapwing in Turkey and Syria (Sociable Lapwing: Ornithologists “hit jackpot”, 2 March 2007), newly recorded calls from Sumatran Ground-cuckoo (Lost cuckoo calls forth, 12 March 2007) and, of course, the rediscovery of Large-billed Reed-warbler (twice) (Indian warbler “lost” for 139 years makes spectacular return, 07 March 2007).
These news stories had obvious appeal to many people - their worldwide coverage underlines this – but there were other discoveries too, equally important to BirdLife’s global conservation efforts:
Are ‘vulture restaurants’ a suitable means of reducing exposure to the toxic livestock drug, diclofenac? Answer: Yes - “Supplementary feeding may prove to be a useful management tool for slowing declines locally in the short term.” (Vulture restaurants can reduce diclofenac deaths, 20 March 2007). Does trimming neighbouring trees reduce snake predation of parrot chicks in the Caribbean? Answer: Yes, a potential management practice for enhancing survival prospects of some threatened parrot species. (Snakes & ladders, 30 March 2007). Discoveries like these have real value to conservationists working in BirdLife Partner organisations worldwide.
Discoveries about global issues like avian influenza were also covered this month (Bird ‘flu follows trade, not migration routes, 29 March 2007). BirdLife reported on a recent review in IBIS concluding that poultry trade, rather than bird migration, is the main mechanism of global dispersal of the H5N virus, a standpoint that the BirdLife Partnership have firmly promoted throughout coverage of this long-running issue.
Discoveries like these have real value to conservationists... —-
Habitats often feature heavily in many conservation stories reported from the BirdLife Partnership. Species are reliant on habitats; whether they’re stopover sites, migration routes, breeding sites or wintering sites. As a result, BirdLife’s Important Bird Areas (IBA) Programme continues to play a key part in many news stories.
This month saw Malaysia become the 10th Asian country to create a directory of their Important Bird Areas (…and Malaysia makes ten, 13 March 2007). BirdLife’s Africa Partnership focused on more practical approaches to IBA conservation: a new publication explained how BirdLife Partners can encourage and establish local community involvement in site conservation efforts. (New guide to building successful Site Support Groups, 16 March 2007).
This site and survey data – the backbone of all conservation action – feeds into BirdLife’s work influencing policy, both national and global. This month we featured stories on albatrosses (Seabirds make the agenda at UN Fisheries Meeting, 09 March 2007), EU funding (Breakthrough agreement for Europe's threatened wildlife, 28 March 2007) and the imminent ‘give-away’ of Uganda’s Mabira Forest for sugarcane and palm oil production (Uganda weighs up value of its forest reserves, 06 March 2007) – perhaps now is a timely opportunity to mention the economic value of birds, site conservation and birdwatching: Zululand Birding Route celebrates ten years (25 March 2007)…
For all these new discoveries, reports and updates coming from the BirdLife Partnership, some mysteries remain: where exactly do young, non-breeding Bald Ibis go in winter? (Northern Bald Ibises return, 16 March 2007). Could Tanzania’s Uluguru South Forest Reserve be an important new foothold for Uluguru Bush-shrike? (Uluguru Bush-shrike found over the limit, 23 March 2007)
More answers next month…
Another discovery: March 2007 was also a record-breaker: most visits to the BirdLife website in one month - testament to the diverse, informative and up-to-date news coming from the BirdLife Partnership.
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Jules Howard, News Editor