- One of the largest bird of prey roosts ever found was discovered in Senegal.
The LPO surveys reveals a single roost containing over 28,600 lesser kestrels and 16,000 African swallow-tailed kite species of birds.
Lesser kestrel, which has undergone rapid decline in western Europe, has been classified as a vulnerable bird. Since 1950, its equivalent stands at c.46% in each decade. As a result, it has become the subject of significant conservation efforts, particularly in its European breeding range.
Philippe Pilard of LPO who discovers the site in January 2007 says in a statement issued by BirdLife thus: “one evening, I saw the passage of some 300 birds flying over. The next evening I saw 1,300 falcons fly over. I therefore decided to follow them, which was only possible on foot.”
“I first walked 10 kilometres -even crossing rivers by canoe- and finally found the Lesser Kestrel roost, along with the African Swallow-tailed Kites.”
Its existence of communal roosts during the non-breeding seasons - which sometimes involve several thousand individuals - has been observed in a number of different countries including Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.
However, conservationists describe this enormous roost - which altogether consists of some 45,000 insectivorous raptors - as exceptional.
The numbers of roosting lesser kestrel at this site are believed to represent more than half of the known breeding combine populations in western Europe and northern Africa. The roost likely held individuals from Morocco, Spain, Portugal and France.
The breakthrough has emanated after seven years of research and observation in the field by LPO ornithologists who were funded for the past year by La Fondation Nature et Découvertes.
Comprehensive surveys have been planned by LPO during the next few years.
"Although there have been a number of conservation efforts devoted to lesser kestrel in France...these efforts will be fruitless if nothing is put in place to protect its African wintering grounds,” Yvan Tariel, Head of Raptor Conservation at LPO, says.
The discovery has been used by LPO to highlight the importance of protecting wintering sites, as well as breeding sites, across the range of this migratory species.
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