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Update on the Conservation Status of Key Bird Species

  • December 25, 2015
  • Robin Snape

Turtle Dove (By Barış Saydam)

Audouin's Gull (by Olkan Ergüler)

Roller (by Zeki Gürsel)

Changes to the IUCN Redlist and implications for conservation in North Cyprus…

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List for birds was updatesd on October 29th. For birds that are seen regularly in North Cyprus, and so those that are of relevance for conservation here, we have listed the changes below:

- Species that are now of more conservation concern:
Common Pochard:  Least Concern (LC) → Vulnerable (VU)
Turtle Dove:  LC → VU
Northern Lapwing: LC → Near Threatened (NT)
Curlew Sandpiper: LC → NT 
Meadow Pipit: LC → NT
- Species that are now of less conservation concern:
Audouins Gull:  NT → LC
European Roller: NT → LC
What does this mean for us?

So two of our most iconic species are now delisted. But that does not mean that we ought to be less concerned locally for their protection.
In fact the world’s most easterly Audouin’s Gull colony, the only colony on Cyprus, could well disappear over the next 5 years, resulting in a range contraction for this species. This delisting could therefore be bad news for the vulnerable North Cyprus colony off the Karpaz Peninsula which KUŞKOR monitor annually. It may be harder to convince TRNC politicians to provide further protection for a ‘Least Concern’ species and it could be more difficult to secure grant support to implement conservation activities for the colony.
The delisting of European Roller is less concerning locally, since the Cyprus population appears to be relatively healthy. In addition, 40 nest boxes that KUŞKOR erected on the Mesaoria Plain this autumn, will surely give them a boost.

The introduction to the list of 5 more species is of great relevance:

Firstly, for protecting habitats. The designation of two Important Bird Areas (IBAs) on the Mesaoria Plain including Haspolat and Kukla Wetlands and the surrounding agricultural lands and halophytic habitats, will be reinforced due to the greater weight that Common Pochard, Northern Lapwing, Curlew Sandpiper and Meadow Pipit now carry. At the Mesaoria sites, these species are recorded regularly in numbers relevant to the designation of IBAs. For example this winter >300 Pochard and >60 Lapwing have overwintered at Haspolat. Kalkanlı Reservoir on the West Coast, regularly hosts hundreds of Common Pochard (regularly >200 and some years >500 including in 2015) and Ferruginous Duck (another IUCN red listed species; 146 and 138 counted in 2013 and 2014 respectively). The latter site is part of a European Union Natura 2000 area, yet is not yet included as an IBA for Cyprus.

Secondly, the listing of European Turtle Dove will be useful in further reducing or eliminating the legal take of this species in North Cyprus, which is still permitted for hunters during a small number of days in autumn.

British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Bird Trends 2015 Report

Snipe, Woodcock, Song Thrush and Turtle Dove, all TRNC target hunt species, are described as having undergone population declines of over 50% during the last 31-46 years in the United Kingdom. Full details of the report are at the BTO website.

(For the changes in the list click here)

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