During the last 138 years, the rare Eurasian Stone Curlew was recorded 10 times only in Lebanon by seven birdwatchers from different countries, and in 1983, Cramp & Simmons considered this species as extinct in Lebanon. In 2016, following four years of concerted conservation effort at this IBA, chiefly in the Hima of Fakiha; eight Eurasian Stone Curlews were recorded, along a transect from Fakiha to Hermel, through Ras Baalbek, beside 26 Cream colored Cursors (highest number ever recorded in the country) and at least three Near-threatened Cinereous Buntings for the first time in the Fakiha Hima. These buntings are considered possibly breeding without confirmed evidence of nesting.The return of the Stone Curlew, the increase in number of Cream-colored Cursor and the possible breeding of the Cinereous Bunting species that was considered very rare passage or perhaps vagrant, are bird conservation success according to a chronological review made by Ghassan Ramadan Jaradi, ornithology consultant to SPNL(1). These birds benefited from conservation work including protection of threatened habitats.
The return of these species, despite continued persecution outside the IBA, should serve as an inspiration for nature lovers. It proves that as well as pushing species to the edge by disregarding the wildlife we at SPNL/ BirdLife Lebanon, and its IBAs and Hima also hold the power to bring them back. Despite this success in saving birds, we know that there is a lot more work to be done in the years to come, especially in stopping the illegal killing of birds that seems to be a worldwide issue.
(1) Dr. Ghassan Ramadan-Jaradi is Emeritus Professor at the Lebanese University and Scientific Researcher at the National Council for Scientific Research (CNRS). He holds a BA in Natural Sciences from the University of Lebanon, a Diploma of Advanced Studies, as well as a PhD in Ecology and Ornithology from the University of AIX- MARSEILLE III.
His professional work experience includes being Manager of several biodiversity projects SPNL/LU/MOE/FAO/UNEP/UNDP/IUCN since 1996, Developer of policies, strategies, Management and Action plans and Roadmaps, President of Palm Islands Nature Reserve since 2002, Member of Arab MAB Bureau since 2001, Secretary General of the National MAB Committee since 1996 as well as Member of the International Advisory Committee for Biosphere Reserves/ UUNESCO between 2007 and 2014.