Back in the Middle East, Kane has been helping to carry out the first coordinated International Waterbird Census (IWC) count for Kuwait
Alongside colleagues from WWT Consulting and Public Authority for Agriculture Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAF), Kane, from WWT’s Species Monitoring unit, recently surveyed several large wetland and coastal areas in Kuwait for the IWC which takes place every January and is organised by Wetlands International. After much careful planning, pondering over maps and sorting out access routes, Jahra Nature Reserve, Kadma Bay and Sulaibikhat Bay were counted, producing an impressive tally of 66,070 waterbirds!
Joining in with the counting were the future waterbird counters of Kuwait, putting to use the training provided to them in November 2014 when the WWT team first visited Kuwait to establish a long-term waterbird monitoring programme as part of the Kuwait Environmental Remediation Programme, funded by the UN Compensation Committee for the destruction done during the Iraqi invasion in the 1990s. Together they enjoyed good counts of Little Stint (10,552), Greater Flamingo (5,828) and Broad-billed Sandpiper (515) and even the single rare Lesser Flamingo, first seen in November 2014, was found again and counted for the census! Of particular note were several species that met the 1% flyway threshold, including Slender-billed Gull (3,207), Kentish Plover (3,057) and Eurasian Curlew (1,114). A wetland holding 1% or more of the estimated flyway population of a species is considered an internationally important site for that population, according to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.
We’re looking forward to heading back out to Kuwait later in the year to carry out more counts and to further the training being provided to develop the waterbird monitoring programme.
Our thanks go to Khaled Al-Ghanem, Pekka Fagel, Markus Craig, Maha Abdul Rahmen and Neil Tovey for their help during the census.