Booklet on raptors of Oman to bolster conservation and public engagement

MUSCAT: Sooty Falcons breed in north coastal Oman and on the Daymaniyat and Fahal Islands.  Steppe Eagles visit Oman in the winter, having migrated from breeding areas, mostly in central Asia.  Lappet-faced vultures are the largest breeding bird in Oman and can range over thousands of square kilometres in search of food. Egyptian vultures, sacred to ancient Egyptians, scavenge on small remains of meat, rubbish and food scraps and can be often found in dumpsites and landfills. Ospreys dive under water to catch fish while golden eagles drop tortoises and hedgehogs from high in the air to break and eat them.

These are just some of the tidbits of information that can be found in the recently released booklet by the Environment Society of Oman (ESO) titled “Raptors of Oman”.

Continuing to raise awareness on the Sultanate’s unique environmental heritage, the booklet is Available online for free, and offers an introduction to the various raptors, or birds of prey, found in Oman, their diet, status and ways to identify them.

Written in both English and Arabic, it includes fun illustrations to appeal to children,too.

Made possible with proceeds from the ‘Wild Oman’ art exhibition by Violet Astor, this booklet is part of ESO’s efforts to engage the public and bolster Oman’s conservation commitment to the important raptors that live here seasonally or year-round.

Championing raptor conservation

Other than the six raptors mentioned, the booklet also include details about the Steppe eagle, the Bonelli’s Eagle, the Verreaux’S Eagle, the Eastern Imperial Eagle, the Weatern Marsh Harrier and the common kestrel.

These are the raptors that are identified and some habits are known which is why details were given about their habits, preferences etc.

There are more than 28 others that live and visit in Oman but these raptors are more difficult to see and study.

Maïa Sarrouf Willson, Research & Conservation Manager at ESO, said, “The Sultanate is a stronghold for several raptors whose declining populations are a cause for concern, several of which are listed as endangered or vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.”

She added, “Our research work continues to focus on ensuring their survival and resources like this booklet are important ways to transmit knowledge and love for these magnificent birds, and ultimately, contribute to their conservation.”

 

ESO said that around 39 species of raptors occur in Oman, either as residents or visitors, including the Egyptian Vulture, the Steppe Eagle, the Lappet-faced Vulture, the Saker Falcon, the Sooty Falcon, the Eastern Imperial Eagle and the Greater Spotted Eagle.

 

She said, “We have collaborated with the IUCN Vulture Specialist Group to ensure it reaches a wider and diversified audience.”

Contributor Dr. Michael McGrady, Director of International Avian Research, shared, “Global threats to raptors are varied, and include habitat loss and degradation, changes in food availability, human disturbance and persecution, and illegal trafficking. Climate change is likely to affect raptors, too.”

He specified, “In Oman, disturbance, persecution, electrocution, decline in prey populations and food availability, and inadvertent poisoning are the main threats. As they play a key role in the eco-system, the protection of these species is not only important to Oman, but to the rest of the world.”

ESO said that around 39 species of raptors occur in Oman, either as residents or visitors, including the Egyptian Vulture, the Steppe Eagle, the Lappet-faced Vulture, the Saker Falcon, the Sooty Falcon, the Eastern Imperial Eagle and the Greater Spotted Eagle.

They explained that 11 species are featured in detail in the booklet, with photos and illustrations.

The other 28 species are listed in a table format along with their status in Oman and their IUCN conservation status.

The booklet is part of a wider campaign from ESO, which includes field surveys, satellite tracking and outreach activities. A panel discussion with prominent raptor experts was organised online to launch the booklet.

To view the 40-page booklet along with a downloadable poster, visit http://eso.org.om/UserFiles/files/RaptorsBooklet_Online.pdf