Friday, 27 February 2009

Help for the Sociable Lapwing

Swarovski Optik and the RSPB Jointly Support birdLife International: Help for the Sociable Lapwing

Nature conservation and species protection are a significant part of the corporate culture at Swarovski Optik, the family-owned Austrian company. Now, together with the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds), the manufacturer of sports optics in the premium segment is introducing a 3 year sponsoring project for BirdLife International. Swarovski Optik is the only manufacturer of optical instruments so far, to provide lasting support for a new programme for the protection of endangered bird species by sponsoring the Sociable Lapwing.

Sociable LapwingThe new BirdLife species conservation programme "Preventing Extinctions" for the more than 190 endangered bird species all over the world was presented at BirdLife International's four-yearly World Conservation Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina attended by more than 500 delegates from over 100 countries. The joint venture between Swarovski Optik and the RSPB to sponsor the critically endangered Sociable Lapwing was also introduced - a project intended as a role model which will hopefully be followed by other international companies and organisations.
The population of this bird species, which is native to the Eurasian steppes (Kazakhstan and neighbouring regions of Russia) and over winters in the Near East, northeast Africa and in the north of India, has plunged in the last 25 years by more than 90 percent for reasons which are not yet clear and since 2003 it has been on the critically endangered species list of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as being at maximum risk of extinction.

Greater Protection due to Better Findings
Experts agree that better measures for protection and augmentation of the population can only be introduced by drawing conclusions from the decreasing population. Dr. Rob Sheldon, project leader at the RSPB, is convinced that "the bird's problems are linked more to its migration and wintering grounds than its breeding sites." One possible factor may be increasing drought at wintering sites. Much intelligence work and field research, however, still remains to be done and from now on use of the high-precision optical instruments provided by Swarovski Optik will make a significant contribution towards this. Additionally, with the Austrian company's backing, the birds will be fitted with tiny GPS transmitters which will help improve and intensify tracking of the migration route outside the breeding period. The Sociable Lapwing with a length of approximately 30 cm is the smallest species of bird to which mini-transmitters can be attached without interfering with the bird's way of life. Johannes Davoras, Director of Marketing, Product Management and Communication, commented on the new cooperation as follows, "Our products, such as binoculars and telescopes, are used for the most part in nature and are held in particularly high regard by birdwatchers. Hence, we consider it our duty to contribute to the preservation of endangered species and we hope that with our commitment it will soon be possible to increase the population of the Sociable Lapwing." The cooperation, initially set at three years, is to ensure sustainability with a positive impact on the population of the species.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Tick, tock

Less than a week to go and preparations are in full swing.

Passport and visa sorted, US dollars bought and gear laid out on the spare bed.

Emails coming in by the bucket load and lots of other things to read. At long last there is light at the end of the tunnel and Syria seems within reach.