Globally, Shell has worked with Wetlands International since 2008 on projects that range from managing biodiversity and water issues at its operations in Iraq, Brunei and Canada to combining wetland conservation with the creation of sustainable livelihood opportunities for local communities in Nigeria.
Commenting on the Waterbird Survey in Oman, Ward Hagemeijer, Program Head Business and Ecosystems at Wetlands International, said, “This survey has produced critical information for successful management of Wetlands Reserve in Al Wusta Governorate and has brought the effective conservation of the treasures this area holds a step closer. An effective conservation management of the wetlands is a puzzle with many pieces. A few are already known and this March 2018 survey has added a new one. Several more pieces are still waiting to be looked into.”
Hagemeijer explained that while earlier work of Wetlands International confirmed the international importance of the Wetlands Reserve in Winter, 2018 was the first year that such complete survey was undertaken during the Spring Migration.
Although the analysis of the collected data is still in progress, first impressions indicate that overall numbers of birds are lower in March than in January 2017. This is the result of a complex picture of birds leaving after spending the Winter in the Wetland Reserves - departing to the breeding places - and the arrival of other birds that have spent their Winter further South and are passing through the Wetland Reserves on their way North. It appears that more birds have left than have been replenished from the South.
The picture differs a lot per species. A number of species show lower numbers in March: The Lesser Sand Plover’s numbers are 80% lower in March 2018 than in January 2017. Dunlin is 50% lower. These are amongst the most common species at the Wetland Reserves and therefore have a large impact on the overall figures. The less numerous but very characteristic Crab Plover, a signature species, was found in numbers 90% less than in January 2017. Large gulls and Cormorant were also far less numerous than in January. Curlew Sandpipers on the other hand have increased 4 fold (400% more than January 2017). Most other species show less marked differences.
Besides the total count, other methods were deployed to disentangle the complex picture of species coming and going to and from the Wetland Reserve. Frequent counting of a small area, the counting of a sample-site, the ringing and colour-marking of waders shed new light on how the birds use the area. This work kick-started a multi-year research programme to support the effective management of the Wetland Reserve as a site of international importance.
Complete findings from the first full Spring Migration count are to be published later in the year.
Mr. Hassan Almarashi
Spokesperson Middle East & North Africa
Shell EP International Ltd
Tel: +971 4 705 5783
Cell: +971 56 226 0924
Mr. Nureddin Wefati
Head of Media Relations for Middle East & North Africa
Shell EP International
Miss. Aziza Saud Al Adhubi
Acting Head Section of Qurm Nature Reserve
Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs
Tel: +968 24404773
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