Red Knots set off in April with large fat reserves (fuel) from the airport “West Coast National Park” (the Langebaan Lagoon tidal flats in South Africa) to fly 7,000–8,000 km until they reach the tidal flats of Guinea Bissau, the airport “Banc d’Arguin National Park” in Mauritania or another appropriate refuelling site. They recover the resources they lost and intensively feed for three weeks on protein-rich shellfish allowing them to almost double in weight. The next long-haul flight of 48–72 hours in duration takes them to the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Wadden Sea”, which is also covered by a CMS agreement on seals. Having lost most of their “African fuel” the birds once again refuel for the last leap to the “Great Arctic Reserve” on Taimyr in North Siberia. International conservation cooperation within the framework of the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) along the East Atlantic Flyway is ongoing in an effort to protect as many of these crucial airports (large scale tidal flats) as national parks or other types of MPAs as possible.
From collection: Living Planet: Connected Planet, Rapid Response Assessment
Riccardo Pravettoni, UNEP/GRID-Arendal