MUSCAT: A waterbird survey at Barr al Hikman, conducted by Wetlands International and sponsored by Shell Development Oman as part of its commitment to supporting environmental conservation initiatives in the Sultanate yielded spectacular and informative results, once again confirming the unique value this coastal intertidal area close to Masirah Island offers waterbirds. Wetlands International is a global not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the conservation and restoration of wetlands. It is one of Shell’s environmental partners that bring specific expertise to projects in areas such as biodiversity to help improve Shell’s performance.
The 2017 survey showed that waders such as curlew sandpipers and less sandplovers made for the largest group of species found in the Barr al Hikman area, followed by cormorants, herons and flamingos. The team of surveyors counted a staggering 136,359 Curlew Sandpipers and 104,385 Lesser Sandplovers over the survey period. The group of experts from Wetlands International also noted a higher number of juvenile Greater Flamingos which when compared to previous counts from earlier years show that flamingos have been increasing in numbers over time. The results were recently shared during a technical engagement session which was organised by Shell Development Oman and attended by representatives from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs (MECA), Environment Society of Oman (ESO), PDO, Shell Oman Marketing Company (SOM), interest groups and individuals.
“Through the surveys we’ve in 2016 and 2017 with support from SDO, Wetlands International has demonstrated that Barr al Hikman is an exceptionally important site for waterbirds. This has informed the decision by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs to propose these wetlands to be designated as Ramsar sites,” said Ward Hagemeijer, Head Business and Ecosystems at Wetlands International.
Chris Breeze, Shell’s Country Chairman in Oman, said: “The recent survey provides another vital source of information for both conservation and management of this unique area. We are proud of the opportunity to positively contribute to better understanding the ecologically rich environment at Barr al Hikman.”