Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Second riddle posed by return of the rare bald ibis

02.03.2007
The rarest birds in the Middle East are returning to breeding grounds after being fitted with satellite tags to unveil the mystery of their migration journey.

The re-appearance of one northern bald ibis in Palmyra, Syria, with two others on its tail, has been heralded as a success for the nine-month tracking project that began when scientists tagged three adult birds last summer.

The trio, Sultan, Salam and Zenobia, the latter named after Palmyra’s third-century warrior queen, have flown more than 3,800 miles across seven countries on their migration route spending the winter in the Ethiopian highlands 50 miles from the country’s capital Addis Ababa.

The National Geographic Society, RSPB and others are funding the project. Bedouin nomads and rangers from the Syrian Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform are protecting the breeding site and the new tracking data will help conservationists safeguard the birds on migration and over winter as well.

Dr Ken Smith, a senior scientist at the RSPB, said: “The birds’ return is fantastic news and a huge relief. Hunting, poisoning by the pesticide DDT or disturbance is stopping the colony increasing despite the birds breeding well in Syria. Knowing the migration route is a major breakthrough and means we can now tackle the huge challenge of protecting the birds throughout the year. The next riddle we must solve is where the young birds go and how we can safeguard them as well.”

The Palmyran colony was only discovered in 2002 and its numbers have never risen above 13. Little was known of the birds’ migration before the project began but researchers have plotted each stop-over and the length and time of each leg. They have followed the birds’ flight on a special tracking map on the RSPB’s website. The tracking devices led to the discovery of the birds’ wintering site in Ethiopia.

The birds’ return route was one of the factors that surprised scientists most. They flew west rather than east of the Red Sea, crossing from Sudan to Saudi Arabia at the Sea’s widest point of about 180 miles.

“Our hearts were in our mouths because they set out to sea quite late in the morning and were still far offshore when night fell,” Jeremy Lindsell, an RSPB research biologist said. “These birds have been surprising us from the outset but we are determined to save them. The technology has worked superbly and the tags have lasted far longer than we expected.”

Tagging a young bird in Palmyra is the task for this summer and Lubomir Peske, an expert from Prague, is likely to be involved. “It is a delicate job and a huge responsibility, especially for such a rare species,” he said. “You must watch the birds for many days to understand their habits and hope they quickly resume normal behaviour once the tag is fitted. Attaching the tracking device is like fitting an invisible umbilical cord; that's how close you feel to the birds. The success of the project so far is hugely gratifying and makes me very optimistic about tagging a young ibis this summer.”

Paul Buckley, International Officer at the RSPB, said: “None of the nine younger birds in Syria last summer have been seen and that suggests that they use a different over-wintering site. A year ago we were sure the birds would stay together but these ibis are behaving very differently. Tracking a young bird should solve this new mystery and perhaps broaden the level of the protection the colony needs.”

Abdulkhalek Assaad, National Project Coordinator with the MAAR, said “We are pleased to see our birds returning once more. We will do our best to protect them and ensure they breed successfully. We are encouraged by this new knowledge about where they spend the winter and hope to find out more about the young birds through the use of additional satellite tags.”

Ibrahim Khader, Head of BirdLife Middle East, said: “The birds’ migration remains perilous and it is our job to make that journey safer. If we can do that, this population will have a much better chance of survival. Without this project, the northern bald ibis would have been consigned to history and hieroglyphics.”

Cath Harris | alfa
Further information:
http://www.rspb.org.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Foxes in the city: citizen science helps researchers to study urban wildlife
14.12.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

nachricht Machine learning helps predict worldwide plant-conservation priorities
04.12.2018 | Ohio State University

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Data storage using individual molecules

Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.

Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

When a fish becomes fluid

17.12.2018 | Studies and Analyses

Progress in Super-Resolution Microscopy

17.12.2018 | Life Sciences

How electric heating could save CO2 emissions

17.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>