Coordinating Flyway Action for the Threatened Slaty Egret

Bonn, 5 October 2023 – The first Meeting of the AEWA Slaty Egret International Working Group (IWG) was successfully held in Maun, Botswana from 13 – 15 September 2023.

The meeting brought together 17 representatives from five of the six Range States of the Slaty Egret. The meeting was hosted by the Government of the Republic of Botswana and co-organized by the UNEP/AEWA Secretariat and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) of Botswana.

The Slaty Egret (Egretta vinaceigula) is a small slaty-blue egret, listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List with a declining population spanning six southern African countries: Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“Botswana is a key range state for the Slaty Egret and a country that is highly committed to working with the other range states to preserve this enigmatic Southern African species,” said Mr Kenosi Nkape, Principal Wildlife Officer at the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) of Botswana, who chaired the meeting in Maun on behalf of his country, which was elected as the first Chair of the International Working Group.

The Slaty Egret is a species for priority action under AEWA, due to its globally threatened status and listing in Category 1 of Column A of AEWA’s Table 1 (Annex 3 of the Agreement). The development of an AEWA International Single Species Action Plan (SSAP) for the Slaty Egret, was initiated through an action planning workshop, that also took place in Maun, Botswana in 2011 and was then formally adopted by AEWA Parties at the 5th Meeting of the Parties (AEWA MOP5) held in La Rochelle, France in 2012.

Participants of the First Slaty Egret International Working Group Meeting in Maun, Botswana © Sergey Dereliev,

The aim of the IWG meeting held in Maun was to bring together the principal Range States of the species which are members of the International Working Group in order to take stock of the conservation work that has been done in each country since the Plan’s adoption. In addition, the meeting was used to provide updates on the national population assessments and sites of importance for the species and to agree on a more detailed result-oriented and time-bound implementation plan to advance further the implementation of the ISSAP for the coming three years.

“I commend the collective work now being done by the six African range states of the Slaty Egret to conserve the species,” said Jacques Trouvilliez, Executive Secretary of the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA).  “The Slaty Egret is in many ways a symbol of international cooperation and one that stands for successful transboundary conservation of nature in Africa,” said Trouvilliez.

The Slaty Egret is a waterbird that is shared by all the countries of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) and is a flagship migratory bird species for this region. With its core breeding area known to be in the Okavango Delta, the main threats to the species include the loss and degradation of habitat, for instance from dams, drainage and reed cutting and burning, the destruction of nesting sites, climate change and the spread of alien invasive plant species such as the Giant Salvinia (Salvinia molesta). The invasive floating plant has become a growing problem for many fish-eating birds, obscuring the visibility of prey for many surface feeders. Further to this, intensive tourist activity can be a source of disturbance and negative impact.

In addition to agreeing on the priority and immediate conservation measures for the Slaty Egret to be advanced over the period 2024 to 2026, the meeting also agreed to convene a technical working group that will help establish a coherent monitoring programme for the Slaty Egret across all the range countries of the species in the coming years.

On the last day, DWNP, with the support of Wilderness Destinations Botswana, took the meeting participants to Moremi Game Reserve in the heart of the Okavango Delta, which is one of the core distribution areas of the Slaty Egret. This field visit provided participants with the opportunity to observe Slaty Egrets in their primary habitat and to further reflect on the priority actions agreed by the Range States in the previous days.

The coordination of the work agreed under the framework of the International Working Group for the Slaty Egret is being carried out by BirdLife Botswana with support and guidance from the AEWA Secretariat. The next international working group meeting for the species is planned to take place in three years’ time and will take stock of the progress made in realizing the triannual implementation plan agreed by the range countries in Maun.

The first Slaty Egret International Working Group meeting was made possible thanks to the generous financial and in-kind contribution from the Government of Botswana, Wilderness Destinations Botswana and the European Commission's Global Public Goods and Challenges (GPGC) Programme Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

For further information on the work of the International Working Group for the Slaty Egret, please contact Sergey Dereliev, Head of the Science Implementation and Compliance Unit at the AEWA Secretariat. 


The European Commission were recognized as Champion Plus for their generous support of and commitment towards the AEWA African Initiative for the period 2021-2025. This activity has been funded with the contribution granted by the European Commission under the Migratory Species Champion Programme and through the Global Public Goods and Challenges (GPGC Programme) Cooperation Agreement with UN Environment Programme.


Further Information

The International Single Species Action Plan for the Conservation of the Slaty Egret (Egretta vinaceigula) was prepared by BirdLife Botswana with financial support from the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) of the Swiss Confederation and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection. The plan was adopted by the AEWA Parties at AEWA MOP5 in 2012.

The International Single Species Action Plan for the Conservation of the Slaty Egret (Egretta vinaceigula)


The AEWA Slaty Egret International Working Group (IWG) was established to aid the implementation of the International Single Species Action Plan for the Conservation of the Slaty Egret. The coordination of the IWG is currently being carried out by BirdLife Botswana.


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The Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) of Botswana, national implementing authority for AEWA, is responsible for conserving and managing fish and wildlife resources and their habitats in consultation with local, regional and international stakeholders for the benefit of present and future generations. DWNP was the main government entity responsible for hosting the Slaty Egret IWG meeting in Maun, Botswana.

Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) Botswana


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BirdLife Botswana is the national partner of BirdLife International in Botswana. BirdLife Botswana strives to conserve birds, their habitats and biodiversity by working with people towards the sustainable use of natural resources. BLB has assumed the function of coordinator of the AEWA Slaty Egret International Working Group.

BirdLife Botswana


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As a leading conservation and hospitality company in Botswana and other countries in the region, Wilderness Destinations helped sponsor and organize the meeting field trip offered to participants of the IWG meeting for the Slaty Egret.

Wilderness Destinations Botswana



Last updated on 06 October 2023

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Egretta vinaceigula
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