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Does a recent surge in Socotra Cormorant Phalacrocorax nigrogularis nesting population and establishment of new breeding colonies ensure long term conservation? Pragmatic assessment of recent augmentation in Abu Dhabi Emirate, UAE

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 October 2018

SHAHID B. KHAN
Affiliation:
Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector, Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
SÁLIM JAVED
Affiliation:
Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector, Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
SHAKEEL AHMED
Affiliation:
Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector, Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
EISSA ALI AL HAMMADI
Affiliation:
Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector, Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
ABDULLAH ALI AL HAMMADI
Affiliation:
Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector, Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
SHAIKHA AL DHAHERI
Affiliation:
Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector, Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Summary

United Arab Emirates is an important range country for the ‘Vulnerable’ Socotra Cormorant Phalacrocorax nigrogularis and Abu Dhabi Emirate holds most of the remaining breeding colonies. Emirate-wide monitoring of all breeding colonies was undertaken annually for 11 breeding seasons from 2006–2007 to 2016–2017 to monitor the status of breeding colonies and estimate the nesting population. Breeding was recorded in 10 colonies that were used intermittently with an average of four (± 1.3 SD) colonies active each year. The highest number of eight active colonies was recorded in 2016–2017. Establishment of two new breeding colonies on Butinah and Digala in 2016–2017 and recolonisation of three previously inactive colonies during the monitoring period emphasised the ability of the species to relocate and colonise suitable sites. Continued threats at some breeding colonies caused abandonment and subsequent relocation, resulting in a gradual shift of breeding colonies to safer areas. Presently, most of the breeding sites (62%) with an increased number of breeding birds are found in colonies with restricted access. The Emirate-wide nesting population witnessed a 10-fold increase in the last decade; after an initial decline in 2006–2007 it increased from about 5,000 pairs in 2007–2008 to nearly 52,000 nesting pairs in 2016–2017. Combined with the nesting population from the Siniya colony, the overall UAE nesting population is estimated at 60,000 to 70,000 pairs, nearly half of the global breeding population. Further augmentation of the current breeding numbers is possible if breeding colonies remain safe from human disturbance and invasive predators. For long-term conservation of Socotra Cormorant, protection of all remaining colony sites, including inactive ones, is important in addition to minimising disturbance along with widespread public awareness to change the people’s perception of the species as a competitor to commercial fisheries.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © BirdLife International 2018 

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Does a recent surge in Socotra Cormorant Phalacrocorax nigrogularis nesting population and establishment of new breeding colonies ensure long term conservation? Pragmatic assessment of recent augmentation in Abu Dhabi Emirate, UAE
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