BirdLife: The Magazine September 2017 - Page 54

PREVENTING EXTINCTIONS A s the day drew to a close, the orange light reflecting from the Atlantic seemed to soften the texture of the sun-baked Moroccan cliffs so much so they looked like they could crumble in an instant. There the birds were: perched on a couple of sloping, sandstone ledges, an entire colony of about 20 settling in for the night, low squawks and rustles heard above the scouring waves only a few metres below. Birds often nest in precarious places, and despite the cliffs in Tamri, southwest Morocco, actually being pretty strong, by knowing this species’ Critically Endangered status, you can- not help but feel a little worried for these large, iridescent-black creatures. Throughout history, Northern Bald Ibis Geronti- cus eremita has had a turbulent relationship with humans. This mythical bald bird with a punkish crest once had an extensive range that spread across North Africa, the Middle East and Europe, and has been idolised by humans as symbols of fertility and virtue, even mummified to accompany Ancient Egyptian royalty. Yet it has lost its feed- ing areas to land-use changes, its nest sites have been built on or disturbed, and it has also been poisoned by pesticides, hunted, persecuted, col- lected in a gold rush for museums, and a dramatic range-reduction resulted in an all-time popula- tion low at the end of the 20 th century with only 59 breeding pairs remaining in 1997. Today, almost all remaining wild birds are restricted to Morocco. FROM BLACK TO GREEN Once almost lost to darkness, now the discovery of new colonies reflects a positive light on a species with a dramatic history: the mythical Northern Bald Ibis is bouncing back Shau W'&VS@$$DĔdR( "4UDT$U"#p'FW&&B&0vW&F7W2W&V֗FFf6VBVw&Bv֐DD5@$TptB$$E0$R$U5E$5DT@D$444UDT$U"#r( "$$DĔdP6&6W2vFu$UТ&&DƖfR&666FvF6FR6fr'&fVBF&&RBFRW7BFPFRf6FVBFR&V^( 2v&FV6&FFVB'6W7276F&@G&VBF&WfVBF7GW&&6RbFR&6W2@FR6B7W'&VFrfVG2vW&RFWfVVBƗ&G266'2B&VWFW2R6&fFW26fRG&涖rvFW"B6VW2fb琧F&VG2FW( &R66&&G2V6ǒ7VB6F2v&2&Vǒ&7FVBFRv&VЧFbvB'FW&&B&2&V6VBV'2'&vrBWFc&&G2f"FRf'7BFRFW&7F'( BF2Fr7Fr6Ц֗FVBg&&&DƖfRB&V6VFǒFu$UЦBFR&66vfW&VB&FV7Fr6ЦW2B6W7276F&BF06W"6FRBF&u$UfR6VFW"ЧFVV&Ɩ2v&VW72v&FV&6RFP&fRb7V6'FB7V6W2( vFw&VB6W&F&WGvVV&&DƖfR@FR&66vfW&VBFR6W27F'FV@F7&vFVN( 626&2&vFVUt6&FF"f"FR7V6W2&Vbb&&DƖfR( W&2rFR67BWr6vV@f&( 6WFrWfW'66W'fF7BvV@FVƖvB6r'WBF( B6VBW"6ЦW2VFW"&6W2fRF6VCvF&WGFW ff6&FV7F7FVVFVBf"FR6@F&f"WRFr6VB&R6W'Ff 7V6W2FB2&VVƗ7FVBFRvW7B6BЦVv'bF&VBFR&VBƗ7Bf"fW"3V'2fWrFVFFfR&W'G26RFV( vRfV@vBv^( B&VVvFrf#Wr6( 6@Ɩ&W6Fu$Uv6WF&V@FRW"W&FrFRvV6RWw2GW&pFR#r&W&GV7FfR6V6GvWr'&VVBЦr6FW2vW&RF66fW&VBGvF7F7B67F6Ɩfg2'FbF&vFGVG27V&Fr@V7BF&VR6f&VB7FfRW7G2BFFƖrWr&V6&Bb#"vB'&VVFr'2( FR'F6RbF2Ww22FBvF7FVGVF7&V6R'FW&&B&2&RpWFrFV"( 6f'B^( bFRwV&FVB6FW2vfrW2BbRf"&R6֖"F66fW"ЦW>( 6B&vRb'VWF4T&&DƖfR&&DƖfP7v2v&VBFR7V6W266P#( vRrVVBF6V67VF&R6FW2FR&VvBVVBu2G&6r&Цw&RFV&FV"fVVG2( Ф5D%bT5BBtU5@FRvB&66&&G2&RF6R&Vpg&vW7FW&VFFBW6VBF&vPF&VvWB'FvW7Bg&6'WB&Rp&W7G&7FVBFvFW&r6ǒF2V"f6bFR&6W2v266VVBFR'FW&VFvRbFRv'&VVFr&vR'WBvB`FR7F&6V7FW&VF6V֒vB'WB7V'7FF'&VVFr67FW7G2&&V6GW&WN( 26F6#"&V6W6PFR&&G2VVBF&RgVǒ&VV6VB6FV"֖w&ЧF'&G2&R&W7F&VB'WBBFR7F'BbvЧFW"FVVB'FRGW&6vfW&VB2FWBFV6FfGV6RFWvfǒF'VWG0fW"7&"&R7V&V7BFVvVFrgW'FW 6WF&&vVFW&Rg&VRF&FR7VW"FW6R&&G2f6RF&VG2bF7GW"Ц&6RVV7G&7WF"6Ɨ6vFvW&ƖW2FR7&6fƖ7B2'&VvBFFVB6Ɩ6ЧF27&V6VBF7GW&&6RBFR76&ƗG`W'6V7WF2&vRV&W'2b&VgVvVW2fP6WGFVB&VB&&V6&RFCW&f&f6RB&W6VB67Wr&V2W6V@'fVVFr&6W2vWfW"R7&&VgVvVRv&FVvv&VBvF6&VƖ7B'FW&&B&267&2VBFIFW&\I&&DƖfRGW&WvW&R2VVR6GVF&RFRWF&FV7Fr&6W26R&RBvF66W'fF&w&W2F6G&F&VG0B&WGW&FR&&G2FgVǒvB7FGW2FW&R0&V6vF2V7FW&VF6V@BWfVGVǒ&g&VR6Rv( BVgVǐ&VV&W&rFV"֖w&F&WFRFWF6FǒFVvf"FRRvBfVR@FgVb7&&&G2FB&VVB6FfGח&FRfBƖvBbRf"FV0ƖVǒWFwV6VBSP