MUSCAT, OMAN --- In line with its ongoing commitment towards the environment and sustainable development in Oman, Shell Development Oman recently helped sponsor an international waterbird survey at Barr Al Hikman. The survey was conducted by Wetlands International, a environmental partner of Shell, between 20 January and 3 February 2016.
Wetlands International revealed the results of this survey in a technical engagement session held at Shell Development Oman’s office in the presence of representatives from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs (MECA), Environment Society of Oman (ESO), Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) and Shell Oman Marketing Company (SOM), as well as other industry and interest groups. During the two-week survey, Wetlands International group of experts were able to count over half a million waterbirds. The outcomes of this survey reinforce the global importance of Barr al Hikman, including providing a critical habitat for the Great Knot, an endangered species with populations under increased threat.
Speaking at the engagement session, Ward Hagemeijer, the project lead, stated “Barr Al Hikman is one of the 25 most important sites in the African Eurasian flyway zone that qualifies as a critical site for more than 28 waterbird species like waders, gulls and terns. What is also truly unique about the counting survey we recently conducted, is that it provides important clues about trends in an otherwise poorly monitored flyway. Among the most interesting findings was the fact that about 10% of the world population of Crab Plover, a species largely restricted to the Arabian Sea region, were counted in Barr Al Hikman.”
In January, Wetlands International launched a year-long campaign “Let’s make it count” in partnership with its national and International Waterbird Census (IWC) partners, volunteers, governments, corporates and others to mark the 50th count of the census. With this campaign, Wetlands International hopes to increase the number of important wetland sites covered by the annual count, ensure the latest and most up-to-date information about waterbirds is available to support conservation action worldwide and promote effective conservation action to be taken at critically important sites along all flyways.
This initiative comes after previous successful partnerships between Shell and the Environment Society of Oman that aimed to contribute to the preservation of Oman’s environment. Similar initiatives supported by Shell in the past include the launch of an environment curriculum (in partnership with the Ministry of Education) and the sponsorship of the Chief Scientist of British Schools Exploring Society’s expedition to Oman, the Global Flyway Network in Barr Al Hikman, a series of books about the environment, including “Birds in Oman” and “Whales and Dolphins of Arabia” and a study about Egyptian Vultures in partnership with ESO.
Commenting on this initiative, Chris Breeze, Shell’s Country Chairman in Oman, stated: “Shell Development Oman is pleased to support Wetlands International on their recent visit to Oman to conduct a waterbird census at Barr Al Hikman, a globally important and ecological rich wetland and a proposed Ramsar site located in the south east coast of Oman. Wetlands International provides a vital source of information for the conservation and management of wetlands and waterbirds around the world and Shell is proud to contribute to gaining a better understanding of the important role that wetlands play in our environment here in Oman and across the globe.”