Critically endangered Northern Bald Ibis disturbed

Northern Bald Ibis from Gesner's Historiæ animalium, book III, 1555With less than 500 individuals left in the wild, Northern Bald Ibis is in bad shape.  It’s quite disturbing when one reads messages like the one below where birders are disregarding the needs of these birds. These are excerpts of a message from the RSPB‘s Chris Bowden:

“I want to thank the 95+% of birders and bird tour leaders who visit southern Morocco each year and respect the importance of the last colony of the Critically Endangered Northern Bald Ibis, by searching for the birds away from the main breeding colony at Tamri. I am very much aware how much all visiting birders want to see Northern Bald Ibis when visiting the area, and realise it can be frustrating if the birds are not in the feeding areas exactly when arriving at the site, especially as visitors itineraries are often tightly packed.

So it is very disturbing when a minority of irresponsible visitors such as a recent group in early May (who we know from wardens records that the leader has previously ignored the well known request among all birders to avoid the colony), continue to approach the colony itself. This is particularly disappointing and embarrassing to the responsible birding community. The wardens are locally appointed and trained (one key tangible benefit of the ibis to the village communities closest to the colonies and roosts, and one which indirectly links and informs the locals of the importance of the ibis), and their priority role is to keep all visitors away from the site as well as systematically monitoring the breeding birds. This recent birding party of birders from England refused to accept the wardens request to leave and became abusive before photographing the birds anyway. Through their attitude they appear to condone others in approaching and jeopardising the largest remaining colony of this species in the world.”

In contrast to these negative events, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation has committed to supporting further research and conservation of the Northern Bald Ibis.  This is an excerpt from the Birdlife International website:

One of the rarest birds in North Africa and the Middle East has received a conservation boost from the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. Once revered by the Egyptian Pharaohs, Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita has become extinct in the majority of its former range in North Africa, the European Alps and the Middle East, and is now listed as Critically Endangered the highest threat level of extinction. However, ongoing conservation efforts will now benefit from a three year grant from the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. [more here]

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