This video shows a great reed warbler.
This is a turtle dove video from France.
24 May 2017
Flying Start – new hope for the Turtle-dove
In ancient Greek mythology, the European Turtle-dove Streptopelia turtur was purported to be sacred to Demeter, goddess of the harvest and agriculture. As a species of cultivated areas and woodland, the Turtle-dove would have been a familiar farmland sight – as it would continue to be for a great many centuries to come. Today, however, the Turtle-dove – like all too many of Europe’s once common farmland birds – is declining at an alarming rate in numerous countries across our continent and is now listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List.
“The sharpest declines that we know about are found along the western flyway”
A long-distance flyer, the Turtle-dove migrates from its European breeding grounds to winter in Africa. All three main migratory flyways – western via France and Spain, central via Italy and eastern via Greece – present perilous hurdles including lack of food and water, hunting and illegal killing as well as sea and desert crossings to reach sub-Saharan Africa. But the sharpest declines that we know about are found along the western flyway: from the UK, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands down through France, Spain and Portugal. Overall, the European population is estimated to be declining at a rate of 30-49% over a 16 year period. But in the UK, the situation is even worse with numbers plummeting by almost 95% in the last twenty years.
To reverse this downward spiral, the Turtle-dove was chosen to be one of the 16 iconic bird species targeted by the EU-funded LIFE EuroSAP project, launched in 2015. The project studies the entire life-cycles and migratory routes of some of the most charismatic and threatened birds in Europe with a view to developing specific Species Action Plans (SAPs) to conserve populations on a continental scale.
The first draft of the European Turtle-dove Action Plan – coordinated by BirdLife International and the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) – was published this April. It details an initial set of proposed conservation actions to tackle habitat loss, lack of food availability and the impact of hunting over a ten year period.
This draft is now out for consultation: governments, conservation organisations, scientists, hunting organisations and other groups from across the Turtle-dove’s European, Central Asian and African range, now have the chance to comment on and shape the Action Plan before it is launched in early 2018. So far, the process has involved more than 130 experts from across countries and disciplines; it’s truly great to see the Turtle-dove – a fabled symbol of fidelity – bringing together such a diverse array of people. We’ve gotten off to a flying start and it feels like there could be new hope for the future of the Turtle-dove in Europe.
Joscelyne Ashpole is a Species & Habitats Assistant Officer at RSPB (BirdLife UK).
You can view the draft Turtle-dove Action Plan online via the Species Action Plan Tracking Tool.
This video says about itself:
Birds and animals of Subaland, Lake Victoria
27 January 2015
A description in Suba language of popular birds and animals found in Lake Victoria, Subaland, Kenya. Each in its natural habitat and with the local Suba name.
16 May 2017
The guardians of Africa’s largest lake
Locals are rallying together to protect Lake Victoria’s valuable wetlands and its inhabitants. The world’s largest tropical lake spans three countries and nourishes both the rich wildlife and the impoverished communities that live around it. But its resources have also attracted less desirable attention – such as traffickers targeting iconic birds such as the Shoebill.
By Louise Jasper
As the sun rises over the Mabamba Bay Wetland on the northwestern shores of Lake Victoria, East Africa, a canoe slowly navigates a winding channel lined with papyrus and reeds. A light mist still clings to the water, and three tourists jump excitedly at every rustle, ripple and flutter of wings as they peer into the dense vegetation. Their guide Julius Musenda, a fisherman from the local village of Kasanje who knows the swamp like the back of his hand, keeps his sharp eyes peeled for the feathered prize they have all come to find.
Mabamba Bay is widely recognised as the best place to see the mysterious Shoebill Balaeniceps rex in Uganda, but a sighting is never guaranteed. Tension is mounting, they must soon return to land to catch their flight and time is growing short. There! He’s spotted one at last: an unmistakeable blue-grey bird with a massive bill and small white eyes, standing still as stone as it waits for its next meal to swim within range. As his clients gasp, focus their binoculars and snap away at their cameras, Julius smiles with relief. His clients will leave Uganda today happy and satisfied; a job well done.
Julius is a member of the Mabamba Bird Guides and Conservation Association, which is in turn part of the Mabamba Wetland Eco-Tourism Association (MWETA), along with two other Local Conservation Groups (LCGs). These community groups are run by volunteers who aim to conserve and sustainably manage the wetlands’ natural resources, and are part of a network of over 2,000 similar groups working at BirdLife Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) around the world.
The Shoebill and a range of other interesting wildlife such as the Blue Swallow Hirundo atrocaerulea, Papyrus Gonolek Laniarius mufumbiri and Sitatunga Antelope Tragelaphus spekii attract ever-increasing numbers of visitors to the swamp, providing vital income for the local people. So in 2013 and 2014 when wildlife traffickers began to target the Shoebill in Mabamba Bay for sale to zoos and private collectors, the community took swift and direct action to stamp out the trade.
The local people were able to act so quickly and confidently because they were well organised and aware of their rights and responsibilities as stewards of the wetland, which is an IBA protected under the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands and their resources.. They also fostered close relationships with local law enforcement agencies and government bodies, and were able to rely on their support when the need arose.
Vitally, they had the motivation to protect their local patch from those who wished to exploit it for short-term gain. MWETA focused their conservation efforts through the creation of a sophisticated Community Action Plan, with assistance from Nature Uganda (BirdLife Partner in Uganda), which also helped them better understand the importance and value of their natural resources.
Mabamba Bay, like some other wetlands in the area, is not included in Uganda’s official protected area system. Its management therefore lies largely in the hands of local people and civil society organisations such as MWETA, who try to conserve it in the face of serious threats including poaching, pollution, invasive species and agricultural encroachment – problems also affecting the wider Lake Victoria Basin.
The famous lake supports Africa’s largest inland fishery, and its resources and ecosystem services help sustain the livelihoods of tens of millions of people. However, it is this dependence that threatens Lake Victoria’s delicate and diverse ecology, including its remarkable cichlid fish diversity and globally threatened species such as the Shoebill and Papyrus Yellow Warbler Chloropeta gracilirostris. No less than 17 IBAs are directly connected to the lake system, with more found across the Basin.
Due to the high levels of poverty in the densely populated Basin, governments have historically focused on poverty alleviation and increasing GDP, at any cost. Exploitation of natural resources continues apace, and arguments for sustainability tend to lose out in favour of commercial growth. If the government will not stand up for nature, then communities must urge them to do so.
There are numerous LCGs working to protect their own patch of Lake Victoria on a voluntary basis, and BirdLife International, with funding from the Aage V. Jensen Foundation, has released a new report that details how five such groups have been working with decision makers to tackle environmental issues in their area. By sharing their experiences of working with local governments to protect their local IBAs, including Yala Swamp, Kenya; Mabamba Bay and Lutembe Bay, Uganda; Mpungwe Mountains Chain (connected to Ruvubu National Park IBA), Burundi; and Akanyaru Wetlands, Rwanda, other conservation groups in East Africa and beyond can hopefully benefit from their wisdom.
For example, the group Serukubeze (“the ability to do”) is formed mostly of young women who are working hard to protect the Mpungwe Mountain Chain by encouraging local policy makers to take conservation seriously. The Association Burundaise pour la Conservation de la Nature (BirdLife in Burundi) has supported Serukubeze by organising training in fundraising and advocacy, giving members the confidence to engage with decision makers.
In another example, three cooperatives in the Akanyaru Wetlands in neighbouring Rwanda are implementing their Community Adaptation Plan, which aims to rehabilitate and sustainably manage the wetland, improve livelihoods, reduce poverty, and build their capacity to raise funds and influence policy. With the support of Association pour la Conservation de la Nature au Rwanda (BirdLife Partner), the community is working together to improve their quality of life through the sustainable use of their wetlands.
They are taking advantage of the national programme of community service called Umuganda, where on the last Saturday of every month people participate in activities such as street cleaning, tree planting and wetland restoration.
Many rural communities possess a deep well of knowledge about their local environment. Every plant species has a name, and its uses – as food, fuel, medicine or building material – are passed down through the generations. The ebb and flow of the seasons, the lifecycles of animals; these things are not merely the background to everyday life – they are life. This sort of “natural database”, paired with a community’s motivation to safeguard their local natural resources, can be a valuable resource for conservation, if they are recognised and respected.
This motivation is clearly expressed by Julius Musenda: “Mabamba Bay wetland is my only source of income. First through selling fish to the community and tourists, and then through tips when I take them to find the Shoebill. MWETA educates us on the importance of the wetland. Now I see the connection between being a fisherman, bird conservation, tourism, and community development. I have come to regard Mabamba as a community wetland.”
This video says about itself:
Profiting from the Poor: the case of Bridge International Academies in Kenya
8 November 2016
Pupils are not really learning and teachers are not really teaching at Bridge International Academies in Kenya. Still, many families sacrifice large sums of their budget, which go into the “low cost” education provided by this chain. But what lies behind the green walls of these schools? Should parents trust them, pupils put their future into their hands and international donors contribute to the success of a chain that is not up to standards when it comes to offering quality education for all? This video will be eye-opening for many.
Bridge runs more than 400 nurseries and primary schools across Africa. It started its expansion after opening its first school in a slum in 2009 in Nairobi, Kenya, where it currently operates 359 academies throughout catering to 102,644 students with over 4255 academy staff.
Bridge is financially supported by the likes of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and education conglomerate Pearson Ltd. It is also supported by the World Bank and DfID-UK.
Bridge’s business model, which includes fee charging schools run by unqualified teachers delivering a scripted standardised curriculum, has faced heavy criticism. The Ugandan branch of Bridge has recently come under scrutiny for offering an education well below the national standards, which prompted the order by the Ugandan Education Ministry to close the schools in October 2016. Also attracting significant criticism is the Liberian government’s announcement to outsource its primary schools to Bridge.
The company has plans to dramatically increase the scale and scope of its operations to deliver education services to over 10 million children across a dozen countries by 2025.
To find more about Bridge go here.
By James Tweedie:
Teachers stop funds for shack schools
Saturday 22nd April 2017
World Bank urged to burn its Bridges
Unions led by global federations Education International (EI) and Public Services International marched on the bank’s Washington headquarters to demand that it stop giving loans to Bridge International Academies (BIA).
Participants included the Uganda National Teachers’ Union and Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) — both at the forefront of the fight against BIA — along with Britain’s NUT and NASUWT teaching trade unions.
They delivered a letter to World Bank President Dr Jim Yong Kim calling on him to “stop investment in so-called low-fee private schools in general and specifically in Bridge International Academies.”
The letter said: “A highquality public education must be recognised as a public good, and that the provision of education is a primary responsibility of governments, not corporations and entrepreneurs.”
BIA — bankrolled by the world’s richest man, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, along with Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg and eBay’s Pierre Omidyar — aims to dominate education in Africa and India with its low-fee private schools.
But last year Uganda’s Education Ministry shut down all 68 of BIA’s schools in the country after inspectors found that 70 per cent of teachers were unqualified, the national curriculum was not being followed and toilet facilities were so squalid that they put pupils’ health at risk.
More recently, Kenya closed 10 BIA schools for failing to meet basic educational standards.
Untrained staff in overcrowded classrooms give lessons from a script on a tablet computer, and are paid far below the going rate.
The unions also pointed out that BIA’s “low-cost” model was still unaffordable for most families, with Kenyan parents spending between 44 per cent and 138 per cent of their household income to send three children to school.
BIA’s response to teaching unions’ attempts to maintain standards was to harass EI investigator Curtis Riep in Uganda and seek an injunction barring KNUT general secretary Wilson Sossion and other members from publicly criticising the company.
“The World Bank should bring all stakeholders together in a renewed effort to remove the financial and social barriers keeping the world’s children from reaching their full potential,” the letter concluded.
This video says about itself:
Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa Finalist: Cosmas Mumba
2 December 2015
Cosmas shows great passion and commitment in his work at the Zambia Primate Project rescuing primates and through his dedication has personally developed an exemplary primate release programme. Despite humble beginnings and a general lack of recognition, he has achieved remarkable success and progress in his chosen field. He is an unsung hero and serves as a role model to other indigenous African would-be conservationists.
11 Apr 2017
7 projects led by young conservationists that are changing the avian world
Today winners have been announced for CLP and Birdfair project awards, all initiatives led by young conservationists. Discover their inspiring work in this roundup.
By Billy Fairburn & Charlotte Klinting
BirdLife is actively working to support young people in conservation through two separate programmes: the BirdLife/Birdfair Young Conservation Leaders and the Conservation Leadership Programme. We are pleased to announce the final projects selected for the 2017 awards!
Through the awards, the teams enter a process of valuable capacity development, with access to expert advice, establishing collaboration partnerships, and teams are invited to attend a 2-week training course on managing conservation projects.
The winners of the BirdLife/Birdfair grants will also benefit from being part of the CLP Alumni network, which comprises more than 2500 people, many of whom continue to contribute to conservation in their various fields. By being part of this network, more funding and training opportunities also open up to the grantees, e.g. a writing skills course, fundraising and leadership training, additional travel grants, and more.
BirdLife/Birdfair Young Conservation Leaders winners
Saving vultures in Nigeria
Vulture numbers are plummeting across Africa, with some populations in West Africa having lost 99% of their former numbers. A team of young conservation leaders from the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (BirdLife in Nigeria) are setting out to stem the decline in Gashaka-Gumti National Park.
They are gaining a better understanding of the underlying causes of the declines of vultures and other raptors at this Important Bird Area in Danger, and raising awareness in surrounding communities through a conservation soccer tournament.
Safeguarding wetlands in Rwanda
In Rwanda, Akanyaru and Nyabarongo wetlands are unprotected Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Danger, under increasing pressure from unplanned agricultural intensification and expansion. This is leading to wetland degradation and biodiversity loss. A team from Association pour la Conservation de la Nature au Rwanda (BirdLife in Rwanda) are seeking to raise awareness, build capacity and inform national policy for wetlands management.
The team will map the current status of the two wetland sites, train local stakeholders in IBA monitoring techniques, and work with decision-makers in Rwanda to ensure their findings inform the sustainable management of Nyabarongo and Akanyaru wetlands. The team leader Gilbert Micomyiza said: “We truly believe that his award is a valuable support to our career as young conservationists and will surely contribute to sustainable conservation of the two IBAs in Danger in Rwanda”.
A clean slate for the Slaty Egret
The Slaty Egret Egretta vinaceigula (Vulnerable) is a Southern African Endemic bird, with a global population of just 3,000 to 5,000 individuals – the majority of which breed are known to breed in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. However, there are promising signs that the Slaty Egret also breeds in neighbouring Zambia, with large flocks often seen at some sites with recently fledged juveniles.
One such site is the Barotse floodplain (an Important Bird Area) where a team of early-career conservationists from Birdwatch Zambia (BirdLife in Zambia) is aiming to definitively prove that egrets are breeding. If they are successful, then their findings will have important implications for the management of the site.
Conservation Leadership Programme 2017 Award winners
“This year we have projects ranging from marmosets to murrelets, from aquatic ecosystems in India’s Eastern Ghats to the Atlantic Forest, and from Borneo to the Black Sea, the spectrum of species and habitats – and the geographical spread of projects – are remarkably diverse. Our award winners will be conducting research into river tigers and reefs, red-handed howlers and helmeted hornbills, and delving deeper into the domains of diving ducks, dolphins and dragon trees“, said the CLP Awards Announcement.
The following are only the winners working on bird conservation. Discover the full list of projects here.
Velvet Scoter conservation in Georgia
The project on “Conservation of Velvet Scoter on Tabatskuri Lake in Georgia” focuses on the Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca, listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and only found at this particular lake as a result of population reduction from overfishing, habitat destruction and illegal hunting.
This project aims to gain detailed information on its spatial distribution, its population size and breeding success based on which to provide objective recommendations to the stakeholders for conservation. The result of the project will provide a base for restoration and protection of Velvet Scoter populations in Georgia. Read more…
Advancing Hornbill conservation in Malaysia
In Malaysia, a project on “Conservation of Bornean Hornbills” aims to create nest boxes and restore natural tree cavities for the hornbills, as they are secondary hole-nesters and do not create these cavities themselves. This work will take place within Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, contributing to habitat restoration.
The team leader, Ravinder Kaur, had a moving message upon hearing the news: “Words failed me at that moment when I read the email, and instead, I reacted by tapping my team mate’s shoulder incessantly while pointing at the email. Truly our proudest moment. This is a great opportunity to advance our careers and hornbill conservation in Malaysia”. Read more…
A restoration plan for Craveri’s Murrelet
In Mexico, invasive mammals are threatening the Craveri’s Murrelet Synthliboramphus craveri (Vulnerable) on the islands where this small seabird comes to breed, which has caused colony extirpation in some areas. The objective of this project is to assess the breeding status of the species and identify the presence of invasive mammals on historical and potential breeding islands.
It will also focus on biosecurity to protect against the introduction of invasive species and create a restoration plan. Read more…
Learning more about the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper
Lastly, our very own Spoonie is also being supported by the CLP awards; in the Leizhou Peninsula in China, where a small percentage of the global population of Spoon-Billed Sandpiper Calidris pygmaea (Critically Endangered) come to winter.
The project aims to establish knowledge of their wintering ecology, distribution and population in this particular area and evaluate the potential risks to Spoonie, as well as reaching out to local communities. Read more…
What’s next for young conservationists?
CLP continues to fund internships within BirdLife to support young people’s professional development and the call for next application round for the Team Awards will go out in the autumn.
Looking to 2018, Birdfair funding will enable BirdLife to support three projects to protect Important Bird Areas in the Pacific.
The Young Conservation Leaders Awards programme has been further strengthened with support from the Jensen Foundation, allowing us to also support the conservation leaders of the future in Asia in 2018.