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Northern Bald Ibis in the wild


The Northern Bald Ibis is an endangered bird species (IUCN Red List CR (critically endangered); CITES I). Formerly the species bred in the Alps but disappeared in the 16th -17th century. The reasons for its extinction during the Middle Ages are not known but hunting and persecution as well as climate change are most likely. The species existence to the scientific world was forgotten until it was re-discovered in the 19th century in North Africa and the Middle East.

Until 1940 the Northern Bald Ibis was common then but declined quickly during the next 40 years. Habitat destruction, hunting and mainly the use of pesticides (DDT) has been the cause of this decline. During this period the species was divided in two disjunctive populations - a western and an eastern population which differ morphologically and genetically.