Environmental education workshop's presentationAt global level, bird extinction rate is estimated one species per century and in the last thirty year alone, 21 bird species have become extinct. At present, 197 bird species are classified as Critically Endangered. This means that they are on the very edge of extinction and many of them will not be here in ten years’ time without immediate conservation action. Djibouti hosts one of them, the Critically Endangered Djibouti Francolin which is the most globally threatened species of its genus in the world.
To prevent its extinction and more species being lost, Djibouti Nature has launched Species Conservation Programme. Various actions and many efforts have been implemented. Among others, the following actions are ongoing:

1. National Awareness Campaign Using the Djibouti Francolin as a Flagship Species for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Djibouti

The Djibouti Francolin (Francolinus ochropectus) is a Critically Endangered bird species found only in two IBAs in Djibouti. Its population is undergoing continuing decline. This means, the species faces a high risk of extinction in the immediate future. Its survival critical issues appear to be the degrading of its habitat through man-made disturbances, such as overgrazing, is a major threat to the francolin’s survival. Awareness campaign consisting environmental education for elementary schools, conferences for local NGOs and government officials and eco-talk sessions for teachers and students of university will be carried out. Ongoing conservation work includes the restoration of juniper forest.

Significant progress in nature conservation issues towards increased awareness and rising interest amongst various stakeholders has been made, particularly the local community living in and around the key biodiversity sites, in the framework of our previous projects “Improving our ecological knowledge to aid conservation of the Critically Endangered Djibouti francolin” and “Increase Community Understanding on the Threats to the Critically Endangered Djibouti Francolin” both funded by Rufford respectively in 2009 and 2011. This built conservation willingness throughout community, local NGOs and other prominent stakeholders but it identified also potential conflict and threats for Djibouti Francolin and other globally threatened species. Based on that, this project is intending to consolidate, repeat and expands gained experiences to other important ecosystems and/or to nationwide.

The main expected outcomes are (1) Conservation attention increased nationally and more people educated and enlightened on the importance of conserving the Djibouti Francolin, key natural habitats and biodiversity. (2) Increased training and robust alert message for the benefit of local NGOs on the importance of conserving nature. (3) Agreement to protect part of Forêt du Day is respected, consolidated and maintained by the community (4) Djibouti Francolin and other key species ecological profiles are improved (5) Environmental education programme is consolidated, maintained and expanded to more schools and even the provision of didactic materiel. These small above mentioned results want to be the backbone to build a strong attention to protect Djibouti’s wildlife inheritance by following up actions arising from works supported by Rufford, including (a) an intensive awareness amongst community stakeholders (b) building capacity of the emerging support site group (c) securing from the community more stock enclosures to keep out livestock., (d) collecting additional ecological data to up date the Djibouti Francolin fact sheet 2006 and other actions such as conferences and eco-talks. You can visit our project file about that effort by visiting the following link http://www.rufford.org/projects/houssein_abdillahi_rayaleh

2. Satellite tracking “Assamo –an Egyptian Vulture” in Djibouti

Egyptian Vulture Survey campThe Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) is globally endangered; it has, like so many other vulture species, declined as a breeder across its range, which extends from central Europe and Asia to Africa. The causes for its decline are varied, including (amongst other things) accidental and targeted poisoning, persecution, disturbance, decline of food availability, electrocution, and use of body parts for traditional “medicine”.

Egyptian vultures or “Pharaoh’s chicken” is a visually distinctive species that can be aged in the field from plumage characteristics. Birds that breed in the northern part of the distribution and their young migrate to Africa, Arabia and maybe India. It appears that immature birds (< 4 years of age) spend the years prior to maturation in southern parts of their distribution. In other words, young birds do not generally migrate back to more northerly parts of their breeding range in Asia and Europe.

Given the declines in Egyptian vulture populations in Europe, we undertook a pilot count of the spring migration of raptors, particularly Egyptian vultures, between Africa and Arabia at the Bab el Mandeb Straits.

Hawk Mountain http://www.hawkmountain.org/ teamed with us and made available a solar powered, GPS satellite transmitter (a.k.a. GPS PTT or sat tag) to fit to an Egyptian vulture. So, on March 11th, 2013, we captured an adult Egyptian vulture, fitted it with the sat tag and named “Assamo” which is the nickname of Mr. Houssein Rayaleh, the only Djiboutian native dedicated to nature conservation issues in Djibouti. Since then Assamo has been moving in the Horn region (Djibouti, Eritrea and Ethiopia). In the coming weeks, months and hopefully years, we will be regularly posting maps of Assamo’s movements on this blog and on the Djibouti Egyptian Vulture blog, and discussing what is happening with the bird and with Egyptian vultures, in general. Please visit the Vulture Chronicles http://hawkmountain.wordpress.com/ every so often or the Djibouti Egyptian Vulture blog http://egyptianvulturedjibouti.blogspot.co.at/ to keep up with Assamo, and comment on his activities or about vulture or Egyptian vulture biology, ecology or conservation.