Northern bald ibis
These extraordinary birds, sometimes also known as Waldrapp ibis, have suffered tremendously from human actions. Although previously found in Europe, loss of their habitat and its transformation into desert, along with the hunting of eggs and chicks, have left only two natural populations, one in Morocco and the other in Syria.
The two populations are genetically distinct and also behave differently – the birds in Morocco stay put all year, but the eastern population migrates south each winter.
The ibis live in large flocks, foraging for insects and other small animals that make up most of their diet. The birds pair-up each year to breed on cliffs, and we have imitated this arrangement in their enclosure at our Jersey headquarters, where northern bald ibis have lived and bred for over 40 years.
Twelve birds from Jersey recently went to Spain as the first step in a reintroduction project, where they will be trained to avoid people. A reintroduced population in Turkey is doing well.