Each spring since April 2009, Nature Iraq has conducted ornithological survey expeditions in and around the vast arid western and central deserts of Iraq, hoping to find Sociable Lapwings that might be passing through the country on their northerly migration back to Kazakhstan.
An important step for the future conservation of Sociable Lapwing will be made later today in La Rochelle, France, when the new International Species Action Plan for its conservation is presented for adoption at the Africa Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) Meeting of Parties that is taking place there this week.
During the current Syrian Uprising, travelling even short distances around the country has become very difficult and is in most cases extremely dangerous. Vehicles are subject to frequent spot checks by security forces and, with tensions running high, travel is heavily curtailed.
BirdLife International scientists monitoring migrating Sociable Lapwings in the heart of the Great Steppe have recently discovered the largest single flock seen in Kazakhstan since 1939.
In order to increase our monitoring capability, two further female Sociable Lapwings were trapped and fitted with satellite-tracking devices in Central Kazakhstan this spring.
During an initial period of warm weather in mid April the first returning Sociable Lapwings were found back around the project study site at Korgalzhyn in central Kazakhstan.
Omar Fadhil is an ecologist and wildlife photographer working for Nature Iraq.
Delegates attending the inaugural meeting of the Sociable Lapwing International Working Group in Syria, last weekend, received the welcome news that Swarovski Optik will be providing further funding to help their international conservation action.
Conservation scientists and government officials from fourteen countries spanning three continents are meeting in Syria today to plan collaborative conservation action that aims to prevent the extinction of the Critically Endangered Sociable Lapwing.
In September 2010, Nature Iraq undertook a combined monitoring and advocacy exercise in several areas of Iraq where Sociable Lapwings have been previously found on passage.
Here you can see a group of school children holding up posters that explain the rarity of the species and urge local communities to participate in their protection.