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Wings Over Wetlands… …Duck Found…

Rediscovery

A duck last sighted in 1991 and feared ‘Possibly Extinct’, has been rediscovered during a survey in remote northern Madagascar. Conservationists from The Peregrine Fund Madagascar Project, discovered nine adults and four recently-hatched young on a remote lake, and have since revisited the site for further observations and data.

“This is an exciting discovery that strengthens our conviction that putting well-trained biologists into the field to learn about species is critical for conservation success,” said Rick Watson, International Programs Director for The Peregrine Fund.“Spectacular rediscoveries like this are extremely rare, but they provide a glimmer of hope for the 14 other bird species classified as Possibly Extinct.” said Stuart Butchart; Global Species Programme Coordinator, BirdLife International

The Madagascar Pochard Aythya innotata was until recently listed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct). The last pochard sighting was on Lake Alaotra in the Central Plateau of Madagascar in 1991 when a male was captured and kept in Antananarivo Zoological and Botanical Gardens until its death one year later. The lack of subsequent records despite intensive searches, and the intensity of threats to the species, had led to it being tagged as Possibly Extinct. The last record of multiple birds dates back to June 1960 when 20 birds were sighted on Lake Alaotra.

The decline of the Madagascar Pochard is thought to have started in the mid-20th century and has been linked with degrading lake and marshland habitat from introduced plant and fish species, conversion to rice paddies, and burning. Little is known about the pochard, an extremely secretive and often solitary bird that prefers shallow and marshy habitat. Wings Over Wetlands

A new project has been launched that aims to conserve the critical areas needed by waterbirds that migrate across continents. The ‘Wings over Wetlands' (WOW) Project is the largest international wetland and waterbird conservation initiative ever to take place in the African-Eurasian region. It is a highly-collaborative project between BirdLife International and Wetlands International, amongst a number of other organisations. Launched on the 20th of November 2006, the WOW Project (formerly the ‘African-Eurasian Flyways Project’) will focus on enhancing information and coordinating measures to conserve the critical network of sites on which many threatened waterbirds depend. “Migrating birds see no borders. Conserving them and their critical habitats may only be achieved through improved collaboration between national governments, local and international conservation organizations and local communities.” said Edoardo Zandri, Chief Technical Advisor of the WOW Project.

The project will cover the entire African-Eurasian area as defined in the AEWA Agreement (the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement). This includes all of Africa, all of Europe and south-west Asia (including the Middle East and the Central Asian states).

“Waterbird migrations are an extraordinary and very valuable natural phenomenon, which this project will help safeguard for the future.” said Leon Bennun, Director of Science, Policy and Information at BirdLife International. Launched today, the Wings Over Wetlands (WOW) Project is the largest international wetland and waterbird conservation initiative ever to take place in the African-Eurasian region. This USD 12 million project aims to conserve the critical areas needed by waterbirds migrating across these continents. Key international organizations involved in the study and conservation of waterbirds are joining forces to improve understanding and flyway-scale protection of migratory waterbirds across Africa and Eurasia. Waterbirds migrate vast distances, and the project is designed accordingly, covering the entire African-Eurasian area, including Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago.

The German Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel congratulated with the words: “Without the wintering areas for the white stork in Africa or the breeding areas in Siberia for the geese hibernating in the Wadden Sea all protection efforts in Europe are useless. Acknowledging the need of a wide range international flyway cooperation I welcome the international support of this project including an important German contribution of EUR 1 million”

The WOW Project is sponsored by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, the Secretariat of the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (UNEP/AEWA Secretariat) and several other donors. The project will help foster international collaboration along the entire flyways, build capacity for monitoring and conservation, and demonstrate best practice in the conservation and wise use of wetlands in 12 selected countries.

“Waterbird migations are an extraordinary and very valuable natural phenomenon, which this project will help safeguard for the future.” said Leon Bennun , Director of Science, Policy and Information at BirdLife International. “The WOW project is unique in combining a flyway-level perspective with an emphasis on practical conservation at the site and country level” he continued. Through its unique flyway-scale conservation approach, Wings Over Wetlands will enhance international conservation efforts to improve the conditions and management of waterbirds and key wetland sites. The project will also pull together currently disparate data to create a flyway-level information portal that can assist conservation efforts and facilitate appropriate policy responses across the region. The central web-based resource is being developed by the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre and will enhance the ability to identify the networks of key sites throughout Africa and Eurasia migratory waterbirds use and depend on during their seasonal migrations.

The WOW Project was designed and is now being implemented as a collaborative effort between Wetlands International and BirdLife International, with support from the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and UNEP/GEF. WOW operates in close coordination with the UNEP/AEWA Secretariat, the Ramsar Convention Secretariat and a wide range of local and international partners along the African-Eurasian flyways. “WOW is particularly significant as it will help countries to simultaneously deliver their commitments under a number of key Multilateral Environmental Agreements through one set of coordinated actions”, says Nick Davidson, Deputy Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention Secretariat. “It is a unique chance to protect migratory waterbirds. Only in cooperation with all countries on their route, can we conserve these species for the future” says Jane Madgwick, CEO of Wetlands International, one of the main NGOs leading this project."WOW supports the implementation of the AEWA Agreement in all 119 of its range states in Africa and Eurasia. We are working closely with the WOW team to maximize the involvement and collaboration with all our partners and countries across the AEWA region” says Bert Lenten, Executive Secretary of AEWA, the international treaty dedicated to the conservation of waterbirds in Africa and Eurasia. Migratory waterbirds and the wetlands they use to complete their seasonal migrations are indispensable components of biodiversity and represent enormous recreational and economic benefits. Their ecology is still poorly understood and habitats and species are under increasing threat worldwide. WOW will help identify sites that are critically important for waterbirds to complete their annual life cycle such as staging areas and wintering grounds that will be useful in assessing problems these species encounter on their annual journeys.

Migrating birds see no borders. Conserving them and their critical habitats may only be achieved through improved collaboration between national governments, local and international conservation organizations and local communities. The WOW initiative will facilitate the exchange of expertise and synergies between a broad range of partners towards this common goal.
concludes Edoardo Zandri, Chief Technical Advisor of the WOW Project.

4th July 2014