A huge conservation effort is successfully reversing the fortune of the world’s largest freshwater bird. But caught in the crossfire on a troubled lake, the Dalmatian Pelican’s new Red List category “Near Threatened” couldn’t be more appropriate
The French Ministry of Ecology, Nicolas Hulot has committed to ending the large-scale trapping of Ortolan Bunting, which takes place to meet demand for a cruel dish where the songbird is blinded, plumpened and drowned in brandy. It's a practice that has driven population declines of up to 84% in Europe since 1980.
When we talk about birdsong, we cannot simply refer to a single "voice". It is a great chorus of complex sounds, it is a real language in itself. The dry "teak" of a sparrow, the plaintive "gheck gheck gheck" of a woodpecker, the shrill "chirrip" of a lark – each sound has its own purpose and is used in very specific circumstances. For birdwatchers, learning how to ‘decode’ the secret language of birds is a great way to identify different species and to better understand their behaviour.
How do we conserve birds? By learning from previous threats. Hundreds of species of bird have been wiped out by human activity in the modern era. Here are just a few species that illustrate the major threats still facing birds today.
Vultures are one of the most threatened families of birds in the entire world and their decline has been shockingly rapid. Some species in Africa and the Indian subcontinent have declined by over 95% in the last few decades, a rate faster than even that of the Passenger Pigeon or Dodo.
The gentle giants at Lake Skadar, between Albania and Montenegro, are now video-monitored 24hrs a day and threats can be addressed in real-time. With local communities embracing all things pelican, and nesting success increasing, the time of the pelican is coming again.
When you’re a local Balkan civil society organisation trying to protect nature, your country’s political position on the road to EU accession can have a big influence on what protection to aim for.