IUCN WAME shows major commitments to save the critically endangered Northern Bald Ibis in Syria

21 February 2008 | News story

The first-ever meeting of the Species Survival Commission Specialist Group Chairs held in United Arab Emirate on 13 February 2008

Northern Bald Ibis (NBI) Geronticus eremita is listed in the IUCN Red List 2006 as a “Critically Endangered” species on a global scale. Unexpectedly, a relict wild colony of 7 individuals was discovered in the Syrian Palmyra desert in 2002. An Ibis Protected Area (IPA) was established there in 2004, therefore, IUCN West Asia/Middle East Regional Office has decided to work within the framework of establishing new standards and practices for protected areas design and management in Syria, where activities will be undertaken for the conservation of the Northern Bald Ibis. IUCN will build on the knowledge and scientific expertise of BirdLife International and The Royal Sociey the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

"SSC represents a global community of practice and a scientific authority on species and plants and IUCN is keen to harness this knowledge to serve the human wellbeing and nature. Our region is in need to contribute and play a key role in this Commission.IUCN work on Bald Ibis represents a key contribution to the IUCN Species Survival Commission work.” said Dr Odeh Al Jayyousi, Regional Director for IUCN WAME Regional Office during the Species Survival Commission’s Specialist Group Chairs meeting taking place in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates during 11 – 14 February 2008. The regional director added that IUCN WAME is interested in developing a shared strategy with SSC specialist groups by engaging with SSC on key issues like Red Listing.

"The Protected Areas Programme in IUCN WAME is planning to Improve understanding of the IPA (Ibis Protected Area) from a physical, ecological and socio economic point of view. IUCN will also focus on awareness raising activities and capacity building for the local communities, managers and rangers through this project which is funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGCS)." said Khaldoun Al Omari, IUCN WAME Protected Areas Programme Officer who is the SSC focal point in West Asia.

A memorandum of understanding between IUCN WAME and Birdlife is currently under process, where IUCN will co-manage the field research operations on the Northern Bald Ibis in cooperation with Birdlife Middle East. This partnership will enrich and add value to the conservation efforts in the region.

This SSC meeting is the first-ever meeting of its kind in the Commission’s almost-60-year history. During this meeting, Chairs of SSC Specialist Groups were given the chance to share their challenges, triumphs and wisdom. IUCN has decided to hold this meeting to honour those who have given so much of their personal, voluntary time and energy to the IUCN and SSC over the years.

The meeting, which was graciously hosted by the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, was an opportunity for interacting in creative ways on challenging subjects and an opportunity for the IUCN Regional Offices to form lasting linkages with the groups to tackle these challenges.

For more information on IUCN WAME Northern Bald Ibis Project, please contact Mr Khaldoun Al Omari, Protected Areas Programme Officer at: khaldoun.alomari@iucn.org.

For more information on SSC contact Ms Lynette lew, Programme Officer Marketing & Communications at: lynette.lew@iucn.org