Jazan/Bonn, 22 November 2012 -
The first meeting of the AEWA Northern Bald Ibis International
Working Group (AEWA NBI IWG) took place from 19 to 22 November
2012 in Jazan, Saudi Arabia and was hosted and sponsored
by the Saudi
Wildlife Authority and Jazan
University, with further financial support
International and the Royal Society for the
Protection of Birds (RSPB
– BirdLife UK).
AEWA Northern Bald Ibis International Working Group (AEWA
NBI IWG) was convened two years ago. Its goal is to facilitate
and coordinate the implementation of the AEWA International
Single Species Action Plan (SSAP) for the species, which
was originally approved by the 3rd Meeting of the Parties
to AEWA (MOP3) in 2005. The coordination of the IWG is provided
by BirdLife International under a Memorandum of Cooperation
with the UNEP/AEWA Secretariat through a unit of a coordinator
from the RSPB and assistant coordinators for the Western
population from SEO/BirdLife
(BirdLife partner in Spain)
and the Eastern population from the BirdLife Middle East
The Northern Bald Ibis is a Critically
Endangered species with two small wild populations restricted
to a very limited breeding range. The Eastern population,
breeding in Syria, reached a critical number of four birds
in 2012 after a decline from 13 birds at the time of its
re-discovery in 2002. It migrates along the Arabian Peninsula
to its breeding area in Ethiopia. The Western population
estimated at ca. 500 birds of which ca.110 are nesting pairs,
breeds in Morocco and is dispersing in the non-breeding
season. A semi-wild population of ca. 150 birds is kept
in Birecik (Turkey) and experimental reintroduction trials
have been undertaken in Spain and Austria/Germany/Italy.
The meeting was attended by 23 participants
representing four of the seven member range states (Morocco,
Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Yemen) and two of the observer
range states (Algeria and Spain) as well as including observers
from the International Group on the Northern Bald Ibis (IAGNBI),
the BirdLife coordination unit and the UNEP/AEWA Secretariat.
The meeting had ambitious objectives all
of which were successfully achieved. The major outcome of
the meeting is the initiated revision of the SSAP. The entire
action framework was revisited and streamlined on the basis
of re-run problem analysis, which was facilitated by the
Secretariat. The country reports delivered by the attending
range states were a useful background to these discussions.
The newly formulated actions were further prioritised by
each member and observer range state at national level and
the research and monitoring activities at sub-regional level,
followed by more detailed identification of activities to
be implemented in the next three years before the 2nd meeting
of the IWG, which is to take place in 2015.
The draft of the revised SSAP will be compiled
early next year and submitted to the 9th Meeting of the
AEWA Standing Committee in late 2013 for approval on a temporary
basis before sign off by the 6th Meeting of the Parties
to AEWA (MOP6) in 2015.
The meeting further decided to establish
a list of critical sites for the species under the AEWA
NBI IWG, which will be a rolling list identified and maintained
by each range state.
Regarding the institutional arrangements,
the meeting approved the Terms of Reference for the NBI
IWG, elected its chair – Saudi Arabia, confirmed IAGNBI
as an observer to the IWG and decided on its reporting practices
and funding issues.
On the last day, the hosts offered a field
visit to the area in the extreme south west of Saudi Arabia
around Jazan Wadi Dam where the Northern Bald Ibises of
the Eastern population stop-over during their migration
southwards to wintering grounds in Ethiopia, which rounded
up this successful meeting most interestingly.