International single species Action planfor the Conservation of the Northern Bald Ibis

Southern Bald Ibis (Geronticus calvus) Science Article 1


The Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita has undergone a long history of decline over at least four centuries, having been distributed over much of north and northeast Africa and the Middle East. Two distinct populations have been identified which are genetically distinct. The main western population occurs in Morocco and now numbers around 100 pairs. A relict population of two pairs persists in Syria, providing a precarious opportunity to keep the eastern population going in a truly wild state. Turkish birds are now only semi-wild, but are still a very important genetic resource for a time when reintroduction methodology has been developed further. It is thought that birds used to winter in Sudan, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Post-1989 records in Saudi Arabia and Eritrea suggested that an undiscovered breeding colony remained in the Middle East. The Northern Bald Ibis is still classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ because of its small range and population. The improvement of the population in Morocco is very recent and is mainly due to conservation and management actions. Where this is missing, the decline of a population appears dramatically, like in Syria over the last 20 years. The main threats to the species over the centuries have been a combination of direct persecution but also the loss of steppe and non-intensive agricultural areas. The chief threats the species now faces differ among the countries where it still occurs.

James A. Robinson & Baz Hughes, T-PVS/Inf (2006) 13

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