For the last three years Wise Birding Holidays has been supporting a number of small conservation projects. We still continue to donate money to help some of these smaller projects (see below) that we feel will still benefit from smaller donations.
However, more recently we have started to pool the donations from most of our tours into one central fund. Once a target amount has been reached this money will then be used to support a single project in the hope of achieving more for species conservation. At present this amount stands at £2,500.
Please visit our Conservation News link to find out more.
We are very pleased to announce that recent tours to Ghana are supporting the BTOs TRACKING CUCKOOS TO AFRICA PROJECT This fantastic project has been satellite tracking the movement of Cuckoos from the UK to their wintering grounds in Africa, some of which have passed through Ghana. The project hopes to learn more about the challenges these birds face on their journey and therefore try and help reverse their decline. The cuckoo has decreased by 63% in England between 1995 – 2010 and this seems to be representative of a downward trend amongst many other UK breeding migrants that make similar migration journeys like the Spotted Flycatcher and Turtle Dove. Prior to this exciting project, very little was known about the Cuckoo after it left the UK to winter in Africa. Based in Devon, Wise Birding Holidays is excited to soon be sponsoring two cuckoos tagged on Dartmoor in May 2014. They have been named Emsworthy and Meavy. You can follow the bird’s journey and find out more about this project HERE Our Nov 2013 Ghana tour donated £240 to the satelleite tracking.
FINNATURE’S NEST BOX SCHEME. Each year Finnature put up a number of owl nest boxes for various owl species. In recent years, the number of natural tree holes has declined and so this project creates further nesting opportunities for a number of species and also allows careful monitoring of breeding success. Currently, all our tours to Finland support this project.
SALVIAMO L’ORSO (saving the Marsican Bear)
Our tour to the Abruzzo National Park in Italy gives you an excellent chance of seeing and helping the Marsican Brown Bear. The Marsican Brown Bear (Ursus arctos marsicanus), with an estimated population of no more than 50 animals, is a highly threatened sub-species of the European Brown Bear and is restricted almost entirely to the wonderful Abruzzo NP in Italy. We shall be donating funds to a newly formed group Salviamo l’Orso: The Association for the Conservation of Marsican Bears. An independent group passionate about bears working to ensure the species does not become extinct. We are helping them raise money to secure the lease of a very important woodland used as a winter refuge and birthing area for female Marsican Bears. Although the woodland is within the Abruzzo NP, Government cuts have forced the lease and put it under threat from forestry activities and disturbance. With only 6-8 female bears currently producing young a year and a world population of approx. 50 bears, this site is hugely important. Salviamo l’Orso also works together with researchers to get reliable estimates of the Marsican Bear population and in particular the Females with Cubs Census that carries out annual surveys determining numbers of new cubs born into the population.
REGUA (Reserva Ecológica de Guapiaçu)
REGUA is a non-profit non-governmental association set up to conserve, the highly endangered Atlantic Rainforest and is home to an incredible 460+ species of birds of which over 115 are endemic to the Atlantic Forest. By joining our tour to REGUA Bird Lodge scheduled for August 2012, you shall be in excellent hands and directly contributing to REGUA’s important work. All income from the lodge goes towards this region, the second most endangered biome on earth after Madagascar. REGUA’s work includes, a huge forest restoration project, wetland creation and education programme for local schools. There are just too many species to mention that are special to REGUA land, but vulnerable species (IUCN red list category) such as the Russet-winged Spadebill, Salvadori’s Antwren and Golden-tailed Parrotlet are all possible just a few hundred metres from the lodge grounds, all of which we shall look for on our tour.
THE FREIRA PROJECT
This project is focused on conservation and reserach of the critically endangered Zino’s Petrel. It is currently classed as endangered (IUCN red list category) with a world population of no more than 60-80 breeding pairs. The species primary threat is predation from introduced black rats and a feral cat population, both of which FREIRA work to control. More recently a freak fire in 2010 on the amazing cliff-top ledges where the birds breed resulted in the death of at least 28 chicks and 4 adults. Some birds are now being fitted with data loggers which are invaluable in understanding the movements of these birds at sea and in turn help try and better protect them in the world’s oceans. The research is co-ordinated by Dr Frank Zino who with his father in 1969 re-discovered the breeding site of this almost lost species. By joining our Madeira tours, you shall be directly contributing to Zino’s Petrel research.
LIFE-Nature Project “Enhancing habitat for the Iberian Lynx and Black Vulture in SE Portugal”
Our tours to the Sierra de Andujar region of Spain have an excellent chance of seeing the beatiful Iberian Lynx. The Iberian Lynx is one of rarest cats in the world with a world population of around just 200 animals. It is classed as critically endangered (IUCN red list category) . However, the good news is that in recent years, the population seems to have increased slightly thanks to a captive breeding programme through the Lynx Life Project and good densities of prey (rabbits). Work is also being done in Portugal to try and secure Iberian Lynx habitat through close liaision and agreements with estate owners in the regions where the Iberian Lynx lives. Rabbits are one of the most important prey items for the lynx and they need large areas to hunt, so it is vital that these wild areas of Mediterranean woodland and scrub where the lynx can still be found, remain wild. The main threats to the Iberian Lynx are: habitat destruction and fragmentation – over-development, prey shortage (rabbits) – associated with habitat degradation and disease and Traffic – construction of roads through key lynx territories. Twelve deaths alone from roads in 2005. By joining us in December, we will make donations to the LIFE-Nature Project which is trying to secure a brighter future for the Iberian Lynx and the Black Vulture (both of which we see on the tour) in Portugal. Although they are species with very distinct appearances and habits, the Iberian lynx and the Black Vulture have a lot in common – they share the habitat where they live, the prey they feed (wild rabbit), and many threats that, over time, led them to share the conservation status of Critically Endangered in Portugal.
SEO / BIRDLIFE Northern Bald Ibis Conservation Program
The Northern Bald Ibis is critically endangered with an adult population believed to be little over 100 breeding pairs therefore making it one of the rarest birds in the world, with 95% of the population found in Morocco. Therefore our tour here in March 2013 shall be donating money to an ongoing research project between SEO (Sociedad Española de Ornitología) and the local conservation authorities particularly the Souss-Massa National Park, with the strong commitment from the RSPB. The project has been running for around 14 years and SEO/BirdLife is supporting a dedicated team of local wardens who are deeply involved in the protection and scientific monitoring of the species. Knowledge on seasonal movements outside the National Park and neighbouring areas is very limited with known sightings recorded regularly at places as far as 700 km north in Tetuan or 1200 km down South in Mauritania. The main known threats for the species is the increase in the construction of hotels and vacation homes to the breeding and feeding areas as well as increased levels of disturbance. Therefore, improving knowledge on the species range and movements is essential for the survival of the species. Our donation shall go directly to help with GPS satellite tagging and wardening of sites to reduce disturbance.