Damara Tern (Sternula balaenarum): Revise global status?

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5 Responses to Damara Tern (Sternula balaenarum): Revise global status?

  1. The numbers of Damara Terns were stable from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s but had decreased substantially by the mid-2010s. this is attributable to a loss in numbers of breeding localities in Northern cape and De Mond. The population of Damara terns breeding in South Africa was estimated at a range between 40 to 44 breeding pairs, with about 10 pairs breeding in the Northern Cape. And up to 11 pairs being counted around De Mond and 25–29 pairs found in the Eastern Cape between the 1980s and 2010s (Whittington et al. 2015, Crawford et al. 2018). The recent estimates of 37 breeding pairs have been recorded in 2018 (DFFE unpublished data). Namibia host a large number of Damara terns population with about 2347 breeding pairs having been recorded in 2010 (Braby 2011). The overall global population in the present century has doubled with numbers to peak at 2473 pairs between the 1990s and 2018 (DFFE unpublished data) and about 7% (190 pairs) in North of Cunene river in Angola.

    Likely drivers of recent fluctuation in breeding birds especially in South Africa include the loss of suitable breeding habitat, at coastal pans and islands, which has resulted from a variety of human alterations, off-road uses, and disturbances.

    Whittington PA, Tree AJ, Connan M, Watkins EG. 2015. The status
    of the Damara Tern in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Ostrich
    86: 65–73.
    Crawford RJM, Dyer BM, Geldenhuys L, Oosthuizen WH, Makhado AB. 2018. Seabird breeding populations decrease along the arid coastline of South Africa’s Northern Cape province. Ostrich.89:299-305.

  2. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to this discussion. We greatly appreciate the time and effort invested by so many people in commenting. The window for consultation is now closed. We will analyse and interpret the new information and post a preliminary decision on this species’s Red List status on this page in early July.

    Thank you once again,
    BirdLife Red List Team

  3. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Preliminary proposal

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2021 Red List would be to adopt the proposed classifications outlined in the initial forum discussion.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline in mid-July, after which the recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    The final 2021 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in December 2021, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

  4. Jean-Paul Roux says:

    While the total population estimates for the species have fluctuated in the last two decades as pointed out by Dr Makhado above, those estimates should be interpreted with caution and possibly not as population fluctuations (increase or decrease) except at very few sites. Several breeding localities were only discovered (southern Angola) or estimated (e.g. southern Namibia) once in the last two decades, and no inference on population trends can be made by the inclusion of those. The threats indentified previously (coastal developments, off road driving, coastal mining etc.) are still present.
    See Simmons RE, Braby RJ, Braby SJ 2025. Damara tern Sternula balaenarum (Sterna balaenarum) pp 91-95 in: Simmons RE, Brown CJ, Kemper J (eds): Birds to Watch in Namibia; Rare, Red and Endemic Species. Ministry of Environment and Tourism and Namibia Nature Foundation, Windhoek

  5. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Recommended categorisation to be put forward to IUCN

    The final categorisation for this species has not changed. Damara Tern is recommended to be listed as Least Concern.

    Many thanks for everyone who contributed to the 2021 GTB Forum process. The final 2021 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in December 2021, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

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