Rare Bird That Was Feared Extinct Rediscovered In Afghanistan


Despite the fighting and chaos going on around it, the large billed reed warbler has been spotted in the north east part of the country.The bird is so rare it had only been spotted on three occasions in more than 150 years before the latest sightings in Afghanistan. Scientists have now pin pointed its habitat and armed with this knowledge hope to be able to protect the bird.

The finding has sparked a wave of excitement among bird watchers across the world who had previously thought this species had been lost forever.An international team of scientists and bird experts worked together to verify the sightings of the large billed reed warbler.The first sighting of the bird was in 1867 but was only officially observed on three occasions since then.

The bird was previously recorded singing and these recordings were used to double check the authenticity of the latest sightings.The first recent sighting was when American bird expert Robert Timmins was commissioned to catalogue birds in Badakhshan in north eastern Afghanistan for the charity USAID.

He spotted the bird in one of his trips during 2008 and managed to record it.Mr Timmins sent the recordings to Sweden’s University of Gothenburg where the song was checked against records on file.The birds were then spotted again in June last year by workers from the Wildlife Conservation Society of Afghanistan.

Researchers suggest the birds were released into Afghanistan when they were bred there during the 1930s.
University of Gothenburg Associate Professor Urban Olsson said the area of Afghanistan was known to have been home to the rare birds but the latest research had provided conclusive proof, which they have released today (Jan 25).

“We had pinpointed north-eastern Afghanistan as an area where the large-billed reed warbler were probably bred during the 1930s,” he said.”When we heard the mysterious birdsong we realised that we were on the trail of an ornithological sensation.”Prof Olsson said the findings were important in the conservation of the species.

“The large-billed reed warbler is not hunted but regarded as being under acute threat since its breeding sites are being deforested but the local population in their hunt for fuel,” he said.”That’s why it’s vital that we protect both the species and the habitat now.”



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