20 June 2008

Yemen Chooses Grosbeak as National Bird

Golden-winged Grosbeak on Croton. Picture by R.F. Porter.

By Richard Porter

The Yemen Council of Ministers recently approved the Golden-winged Grosbeak as Yemen's national bird. This colourful bird with a huge beak for eating fruits and seeds is resident in the highlands of Yemen and on the island of Socotra. The Arabian Leopard was chosen as the national mammal, the Dragon Blood Tree (a Socotran endemic) as the national tree and the Aloe (Aloe irafensis) as the national plant.

After a long consultation process, which involved many students, the final selection of the bird was made by Environment Minister, His Excellency Abdul Rahman Al-Eryani.

"I am proud we have chosen these animals and plants that are so important for Yemen's biodiversity and culture. They will help us promote wildlife education and conservation actions," he said in a statement to the Yemen cabinet and the press.

The possibility of a leopard reserve is already being investigated which will also be important for many of Yemen's endemic birds and plants.

Wadi Lefage at the proposed Leopard reserve. Picture by David Stanton.

Dragon's Blood trees. Picture by R.F. Porter.

Birds that would benefit from the proposed leopard reserve includes at least eight endemic species (Arabian Partridge, Yemen Linnet, Yemen Thrush, Arabian Waxbill, Yemen Warbler, Arabian Woodpecker, Yemen Serin, Arabian Serin) as well as the Golden-winged Grosbeak. Breeding Lammergeier and Griffon Vultures also would benefit.

It is hoped that BirdLife International will be a supporter of this exciting project.

Additional details on the candidates.

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