Researchers from the RSPB and BirdLife Middle East have tracked a group of northern bald ibis on their 1,900-mile (3,100-kilometre) journey from breeding grounds in Palmyra, Syria to the highlands of Ethiopia.
The three birds carrying satellite tags, named Zenobia, after Palmyra’s third century warrior queen, Sultan and Salam, are feeding and sheltering at more than 2,600 metres in Ethiopia’s central highlands, about 50 miles (80km) from the country’s capital, Addis Ababa.
Ethiopian conservationists found the trio and a fourth bird last week. In total, 13 bald ibis left Palmyra in July and scientists are hoping that the other birds will join them or are close by. Their task now is to protect the birds while they migrate and so increase their numbers.
Chris Bowden, bald ibis specialist at the RSPB, said: “Knowing where these birds go and how they get there is a major breakthrough. They have been in Ethiopia since August and are likely to stay there until they return to Syria.
“We thought the birds would go to Yemen, Eritrea or Somalia and were surprised at the length of their journey and the speed with which they covered the distance.
“They have chosen their site well because Ethiopia is famous for its protection of wildlife and their last port of call was Yemen where the government is also supportive. This has answered a big question mark that remained for this species, and one that we feared we might never resolve.”
Northern bald ibis were rediscovered in Syria only four years ago and the group is one of just two wild populations of the species in the world. The other is in Morocco, mostly in the Souss-Massa National Park, south of Agadir.
Despite breeding well in Syria where the birds are protected by Bedouin nomads and Syrian government rangers, the colony’s numbers have not increased. Scientists fear that hunting, overgrazing or the heavy use of pesticides including DDT somewhere on the birds’ migration route is keeping numbers low.
The tracked birds reached Ethiopia via Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, where they spent three weeks. Six birds were seen in Yemen before at least four crossed the Red Sea to Ethiopia.
Northern bald ibis were last seen in Ethiopia in 1977 but their current site is remote and the terrain difficult, which may explain why they have not been seen since.
Scientists will now learn what local people know of past visits by bald ibis to Ethiopia. Measures to protect the birds elsewhere could include replacing harmful pesticides or making hunters aware of how rare the northern bald ibis is.
Mengistu Wondafrash, Team Leader at the Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society, was amongst those to find the ibis last week. He said: “As we searched, we were not getting any signals from the tranmitters so finding the birds in such a remote area was a wonderful surprise. They were perched on a rocky outcrop close to a large pond and fairly close to a village.
“The area is used for livestock grazing but there were still many other species of bird using the pond and the area around it. We are very hopeful that the other bald ibis from Syria are nearby and we will be making a second visit to the area next month to try to find them. In Ethiopia, we will be doing all we can to implement conservation measures to help increase the numbers of this rare but special bird.”
The Yemeni Environment Minister, Abdul-Rahman F. al-Eryani, also saw the birds while they were in Yemen. He said: “I was very excited to find that the birds could once more be seen in Yemen. We recognise the importance to our country of their migration and we will be waiting for them to return on their way back to Syria. We will do our very best to see them safely on their way.”
Ibrahim Khader, Head of BirdLife Middle East, said: “We are optimistic that protection of the ibis in Ethiopia and Yemen will be good but the birds must still survive a perilous journey to get there each year. It is our job to make that journey safer. If we can do that, this population will have a much better chance of survival.”
Cath Harris | alfa
Scientists team up on study to save endangered African penguins
16.11.2017 | Florida Atlantic University
Climate change: Urban trees are growing faster worldwide
13.11.2017 | Technische Universität München
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
22.11.2017 | Business and Finance
22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy