International Search Effort to Find Slender-billed
Bonn, 17 December: The largest ever attempt to rediscover
a possibly extinct species will be mounted this winter
with teams of skilled volunteer observers scouring
more than 35 countries around the Mediterranean, Middle
East and the Indian subcontinent in the hope of confirming
the continued existence of the Slender-billed Curlew.
The full article is on the AEWA website (click here)
Quest to find the Slender-billed Curlew continues
– as species’ Steering Group meets in
Bonn, 11 February 2009 - The first meeting of the
Steering Group of the relaunched Slender-billed Curlew
Working Group (SbCWG) took place yesterday at the
UN Premises in Bonn in the framework of the Convention
on Migratory Species’ (CMS) Memorandum of Understanding
(MoU) for the critically endangered species.
The full article from the UNEP/ AEWA website can
be accessed here.
RATIFICATIONS, ACCEPTANCES, APPROVALS, ACCESSIONS
As of 31 December 2000, the Slender-billed Curlew
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed
by 18 Range States and three co-operating organizations
(see Summary Sheet for details). The latest additions
was Italy, which signed the instrument on 18 April
Although it would seem, at a first glance, that the
picture is much complete now, there are still a number
of relevant Range States to sign this MoU. In this
respect, an appeal was made at the last meeting of
the CMS Scientific Council so that countries such
as Russian Federation and Turkey do so urgently.
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE SbC WORKING GROUP
The Slender-billed Curlew Working Group (SbCWG) has
been officially established under CMS. It aims to
facilitate co-operation and collaboration among scientific
experts and decision-makers for the conservation of
the species. This is almost certainly the rarest and
most poorly known bird species in Europe. It is precisely
the lack of knowledge that adds to the difficulty
of conserving it.
The SbCWG is led by Dr. Gerard Boere (The Netherlands).
Secretariat services for this group will be provided
by BirdLife International, and the contact person
is Dr. Umberto
Gallo-Orsi (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
The SbCWG will communicate electronically and through
the AEWA Newsletter. All relevant news will also be
posted on this website.
SLENDER-BILLED CURLEW ACTION PLAN
The International Action Plan for the Slender-billed
Curlew, prepared by BirdLife International (Council
of Europe, 1996) approved by the European Commission
and endorsed by the CMS (Res.5.1 at COP 5) is the
main tool for action in relation with this species.
It identifies the following conservation priorities:
- Effective legal protection for the Slender-billed
Curlew and its look-alikes
- Locate the breeding grounds
- Promote international and national policies which
protect the Slender-billed Curlew and its habitat
- Appropriate protection and management of all passage,
wintering and breeding grounds
- Locate and study key wintering and passage sites
- Increase public awareness of the species critically
threatened status amongst politicians, decision-makers
This action plan will be transformed into a CMS Action
Plan, in UNEP-format, in order to ease measure implementation
and to facilitate the allocation of funds. This is
done in conjunction with the Belgian Royal Institute
for Natural Sciences (IRSNB). Contracting Parties
to the MoU will thus have a balanced and fully operational
tool to provide for the conservation of one of Europe's
rarest bird species.
SUPPORT TO NEW ACTION
The CMS has been allocating funds to projects for
the conservation of the Slender-billed Curlew. Alongside
contributions to the funding of the Slender-billed
Curlew Working Group, as the sharing of information
and co-ordination of the work of specialists is unanimously
considered a key point in favour of the species. This
working group should also co-ordinate the organisation
of the First Meeting of the Signatories to the MoU
The second project has been an expedition to the
Persian Gulf to locate wintering grounds for the species.
A number of reports in late years point to the existence
of an as-yet unknown wintering area of Slender-billed
Curlews there (including up to 50 birds wintering
along the southern coast of Iran). The expedition
tried to locate such areas and to determine exactly
how many birds spend the winter in them. Unfortunately
so far the recent expeditions have failed to locate
birds but confirmed the presence of huge areas of
potential pristine habitat suitable for the species.
A third contribution has been done to search for
stop-over sites in Ukraine and spreading of technical
material in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
BREEDING GROUNDS REMAIN UNDISCOVERED
It is unanimously agreed that conservation measures
would be most effective if they were conducted in
the breeding area. Therefore, in late years, efforts
have been directed towards finding the first nests
in over 70 years (the last nest was found in 1924
in West Siberia). A number of expeditions were undertaken
in the spring of 1997, 98 and 2000 and all failed
to find any trace of breeding Slender-billed Curlews.