Trying to save the Bengal florican

Bengal florican, photo by Susan Myers

From BirdLife:

Asian rare bird first to benefit from world’s largest bird conservation programme


Bengal Florican, one of the world’s most threatened birds, will be first to benefit from a new conservation approach that aims to save all 189 of the world’s Critically Endangered birds from extinction.

With less than 1,000 individual birds remaining, Bengal Florican had been given just five years before disappearing forever from its stronghold, the floodplain of the Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia.

Video: here.

Vital grasslands protected by Cambodia government to protect Critically Endangered Bengal florican and others: here.

8 thoughts on “Trying to save the Bengal florican

  1. Aug 15, 8:50 PM EDT

    Group launches plan to save 189 birds

    AP Environmental Writer

    BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — An international conservation group launched an ambitious plan Thursday to raise tens of millions of dollars to save 189 endangered birds over the next five years by protecting their habitat and raising public awareness about their plight.

    U.K.-based BirdLife International is calling on environmental groups, corporations and individuals to contribute the $37.8 million needed for what it is dubbing the Species Champions initiative.

    The campaign comes as the numbers of extinct birds is on the rise, mostly due to poaching, habitat loss and overdevelopment. In the last three decades, 21 species have been lost, including the Hawaiian honeycreeper Poo-uli, Hawaiian Crow or alala and the Spixs Macaw from Brazil, BirdLife said.

    The first birds to benefit will be the Bengal Florican in Cambodia, the Belding’s Yellowthroat in Mexico, Djibouti Francolin in Djibouti and Restinga Antwren from Brazil. All have seen their numbers drop from a few thousand to a few hundred and their ranges limited to a few isolated locations.

    “Critically endangered birds can be saved from extinction through this innovative approach,” the group’s Chief Executive Mike Rands said in a statement. “This is an enormous challenge, but one we are fully committed to achieving in our efforts to save the world’s birds from extinction.”

    All the birds targeted in the campaign are listed by the World Conservation Union as critically endangered which means they are on the brink of extinction.

    Among them are the Black Stilt, a New Zealand shorebird whose numbers have been reduced to a handful. Many like Taita Thrush in Kenya are confined to diminishing fragments of their former habitat. Others like the Red-headed Vulture are still widespread in Asia and still have populations measurable in thousands, but are in dramatic decline, having lost over 80 percent of their numbers in just three generations.

    “We all have a negative impact on the environment, and we all have a little bit of blood on our hands when a species goes extinct,” said Stuart Butchart, BirdLife’s Global Species Program Coordinator. “The Species Champions initiative provides everyone with a personal opportunity to play their part in mitigating these impacts and in saving species from extinction.”

    BirdLife officials said the funding will also go to implementing environmental awareness programs, helping developing government conservation policies, creating protected area networks and carrying out surveys to better understand, assess and fight the threats facing the birds. Programs will also be aimed at removing invasive species, especially those that threaten island nesting species.

    “The initiative is about raising funds to direct at the key people and organizations on the ground who can make a difference for these species on the brink of extinction,” Butchart said. “It is the first time this approach has been taken in such a globally comprehensive and coordinated way for an entire class of organisms.”

    On the Net:

    BirdLife International:

    © 2007 The Associated Press.


  2. Apr 14, 11:59 AM EDT

    Cambodia protects endangered bird

    Associated Press Writer

    STOUNG, Cambodia (AP) — Conservationists in Cambodia think they may be turning the corner in their fight to save one of the world’s rarest birds.

    The Bengal Florican, known in Cambodia as “the whispering bird,” is remarkable for a male mating display that amounts to a dance competition to attract a mate.

    Since 2005, a rush to turn grasslands into large-scale rice farms has gobbled up one-third of the Bengal Florican’s habitat in Cambodia, threatening the critically endangered bird with extinction.

    Now, a land protection plan devised by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, along with British-based BirdLife International and Cambodian authorities, appears to be slowing this controversial real estate grab.

    Most of the world’s Bengal Floricans, believed to number less than 1,000, live in scattered pockets on the fringes of Cambodia’s Great Lake. The rest are in India, Nepal and Vietnam.

    The Cambodian program to protect Florican habitat bans development in five zones totaling 135 square miles. Villages and farms within the zones can remain, preserving traditional ways of life. Police patrol by motorbike during the dry season and by boat when floods come.

    Since the program was adopted, three planned developments have been canceled and another put on hold, says Tom Evans, a Wildlife Conservation Society technical adviser in Cambodia.

    “Some prospective developers have been deterred at an earlier stage when they learned that the areas had a special designation,” he added.

    More such zones, dubbed Integrated Farming and Biodiversity Areas, are planned.

    In mid-March, the height of the dry season, the grasslands near Great Lake are at their bleakest. They stretch to the horizon, brown and flat under the blazing sun, with barely a tree to break the monotony. Smoke curls into the air where farmers burn off scrub to rejuvenate pasture for their cattle. Ox carts trundle down deeply rutted tracks. An occasional motor vehicle kicks up clouds of dust.

    But for the patient and the sharp-eyed, this landscape offers a sight to behold: the courtship display of the male Bengal Florican.

    The bird, a black-and-white bustard that looks like a small ostrich, struts into a clearing, stretches its long neck and ruffles up its feathers. Then, it flits into the air before fluttering back to the ground in an undulating pattern, like a parachutist caught in a crosswind.

    As it descends, it emits a deep humming sound that has earned it its Cambodian name, “the whispering bird.” The displays are usually carried out within sight of other males, in what amounts to an open dance competition to attract a mate.

    “They’re really unique,” says Lotty Packman, a 24-year-old researcher from the University of East Anglia in England. “They’re very striking and very charismatic.”

    Packman was spending long days in the heat, netting Floricans and attaching tracking devices to learn more about them, especially the elusive female of which very little is known.

    “You can’t conserve it if you don’t know its natural history,” Packman said after tagging and releasing a male with a solar-powered transmitter that will send back data every two days. “It’s a race against time.”

    The species was rediscovered in Cambodia in 1999. Until then, the country’s decades-long civil war had made detailed exploration of the countryside too dangerous.

    But peace has proved to be a far greater threat.

    Businessmen have snapped up thousands of acres of land in often murky deals and built more than 100 strip dams, which turn the grassland into emerald-green rice paddies that can produce rice during the dry season.

    Conservationists have worked hard to win the villagers’ support, but despite the restrictions on development, a new plantation has been laid out in one zone and preparations have been made for another. Signs marking the protected areas have been knocked down – it’s not clear by whom.

    © 2008 The Associated Press


  3. Pingback: World’s 100 most unique and endangered birds | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: World’s 100 most unique and endangered birds |

  5. Pingback: Unusual bird species | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: Birds of Assam, India | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  7. Pingback: Award for helping Nepalese vultures, farmers | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  8. Pingback: ‘Extinct’ hare rediscovered in Nepal | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.