Syria is toiling to improve its environmental record. An internet service provider there is educating the public, and they have created a Master Plan for Renewable Energy. However, conservationists are unable to resuscitate the critically endangered Northern Bald Ibis without a little help from their Turkish friends.
The bird that was worshipped as the god Thoth during Pharonic times was thought to have gone extinct in the Middle East. But then in 2002, 7 precious birds were discovered near the ancient city of Palmyra. Apart from 2 wild colonies living in SW Morocco, according to our friends at wildlife extra, they were the only northern bald ibises left in the world. Now they are on the brink of extinction.
Very excited, but still aware of the birds’ vulnerability, all 7 were put under the watchful eye of conservation experts to ensure their safety. Today, only 3 of the Syrian population remain.
“There is increasing evidence that hunting and other pressures outside the breeding grounds have driven this decline, and satellite tracking the birds is a major tool for understanding and addressing the problems,” according to Wildlife Extra.
Bringing the birds back from the brink
In order to buoy the barely extant wild Syrian population, Turkey’s Nature Protection and National Parks donated six semi-captive birds. They hope that even though their wild brothers and sisters don’t usually take kindly to strangers, the new birds will become friendly with and follow the wild birds.
[image courtesy of RSPBimages.com]
“Due to the complicated social system and behaviour of northern bald ibis, it was always going to be a huge challenge to integrate the birds, although it was agreed that this should be tried if at all possible,” Wildlife Extra reported.
The wild birds left for their usual migration 2 weeks earlier than usual, but did interact with the Turkish flock beforehand, raising hopes that integration could be possible.
Species Action Plan
The Species Action Plan was decided by the International Advisory Group for the species (IAGNBI) – hosted by the Syrian General Commission for Al Badia Management and Development (GCB) and made possible by the cooperation of numerous NGOs, Governments, researchers, funders, and individuals.
In ancient times, the god Thoth was considered the diplomat for godly disputes. Today it’s role is no different. The victim of hunting and habitat displacement, the northern bald ibis is negotiating its survival. If conservationists can encourage the captive and wild populations to interact and breed, they will be escaping the clutches of extinction. And this will be a boon to biodiversity everywhere.
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