Northern Bald Ibis – British born Birds recolonising Spain

Ibis-9There are many other species with higher profiles. The Northern Bald Ibis might not be as magnificent as a Tiger to some but it is a bird with only two known colonies with an estimated 500 birds in the wild.

The picture on the right is from Chester Zoo where breeding of this endangered species takes place.

With two colonies in Morocco and a smaller colony in war torn Syria, close to the ancient city of Palmyra, a third colony may well be essential to the long term survival of the species.

The species has suffered from loss of territory and over hunting. While it is thought the breed persisted in Europe until around 300 years ago the last firm mention of the species is in a 15th Century book regarding Falconry.

Chester Zoo have a 28 strong colony of Northern Bald Ibis and announced the successful hatching of a batch of chicks earlier this year.

Four chicks travelled from Chester Zoo to Jerez Zoo in Spain on Friday 18th September 2015. There they will be housed with chicks from other Zoos in the breeding program so that the flock will become associated. This bedding in period is essential to form bonds between the groups from around the world.

The Syrian colony had only three birds that were tagged by the RSPB before the war in Syria. There were a few more untagged birds but the colony probably numbered less than a dozen. The three ringed birds may be the only ones that know the migration routes to Ethiopia where they winter.

The Moroccan colonies are much more secure having had the patronage of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation among other organisations. Importantly there is often movement of individuals between the two Moroccan colonies; one in the Souss-Massa National Park and the other in Tamri.

This European colony is planned to be near the town of Berbate in the province of Cadiz. This is an area used by the Spanish Navy for training. That may seem an odd place to conserve endangered species but the military in Europe have of late been instrumental in preserving and repairing the land they use, returning some to nature and keeping an eye on endangered plants and wildlife.

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