Scots bird team to promote conservation in Syria

By Rebecca Jamieson

Four Scottish conservationists from the RSPB are travelling to Syria to promote conservation as part of the Darwin Initiative.

This scheme was set up in 1992 to assist countries that are rich in biodiversity but poor in financial resources.

As well as promoting conservation, the team will be searching for two of Syria’s most critically endangered birds – the sociable lapwing and the bald ibis.  Only two pairs of bald ibis are known in the Middle East, and both of these are in Syria. The sociable lapwing is a species that has been in sharp decline over recent years.

Sociable lapwing
Sociable lapwing

Recent satellite tracking has shown that Syria is a critical stop-off point for these migratory birds, and it is hoped the Scottish team will be able to locate groups in the northeastern deserts.

The team will be working with local people and government officials, in a partnership which brings together the RSPB, the Syrian Ministry of the Environment and the Syrian Society for the Conservation of Wildlife.

Mr Scott from the RSPB said “All four of us are very excited. We hope to see some amazing birds, but more importantly pass on our knowledge and expertise to a nation that hosts some critical areas for wildlife. 

“It is a vast country, but not enough is known about its stunning birdlife. From correspondence, the Syrians are clearly passionate about their wealth of wildlife, and we hope to help them in any way we can.

“Being able to survey in such a country is a real privilege.”