Sociable lapwing (Vanellus gregarius) is a migratory bird listed as globally Critically Endangered. The current breeding world population is estimated to be as low as 5,600 pairs and most of the world population use Anatolia as a stop-over before reaching their wintering sites. The breeding population is now restricted to the steppes of Kazakhstan and neighboring regions of Russia. It migrates south through Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Armenia, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia Syria and Turkey, to key wintering sites in Israel, Syria, Eritrea, Sudan and northwest India. Occasionally, birds winter in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Oman.
As Turkey hosts a significant number of Sociable lapwings during their spring and autumn migration, Doğa has been conducting regular scientific studies in these locations since 2007. The species and its habitats are being monitored regularly. The surveys mainly focus on the three most important stop over sites: Ceylanpınar, Muş Plain, Malazgirt and Bulanık Plain and Erzurum Plain. Studies carried out by Doğa, RSPB and Dicle University in 2007 revealed an important flock of 3,200 individuals in Ceylanpınar, Key Biodiversity Area. Later studies carried out in 2010-2011 showed that Bulanık and Malazgirt Plains are also important for the species. Almost all the population passes through these three areas in Anatolia.
The main threats to Sociable lapwing during migration are hunting and habitat degradation. It is therefore crucial to monitor migrating flocks of this globally endangered species during migration through Turkey to acquire up-to-date population figures and enable immediate intervention if any danger occurs. Doğa works to protect this critically endangered species in collaboration with organizations in other countries important for the survival of Sociable lapwings.
Photograph: © RSPB