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Global Ideas

Tracking Africa's elusive waxbill

A newly discovered population of the waxbill, a magnificent African finch, has given hope to researchers in Benin that the endangered species can be protected and studied in its own habitat.

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Project goal: protection and research of the rare Anambra waxbill (Estrilda poliopareia)
Size: Two ornithologists working for 360°Naturalist
Funding: 2,000 euros
Key species: the Anambra waxbill, a small bird, weighs eight grams. It has a sharp orange beak, a white iris and grey feathers with an orange-colored rump. The finch was discovered in Nigeria in 1954 and spotted again as recently as 2010 in Benin.
Status on IUCN Red List: vulnerable

The discovery of 12-centimeter-long Anambra waxbill, a popular African finch, has prompted a French research team to travel to Benin in West Africa. Prior to the recent revelation, the bird was only found in Nigeria, but pollution there has made the species vulnerable. During their time in Benin, the ornithologists found the waxbill population there to be more significant than that in Nigeria. The humidity and swamps of the isolated Ouémé river valley in southern Benin provide a perfect environment for them to thrive. Global Ideas accompanied the researchers as they set off with binoculars, telescopes and GPS to track the elusive creatures.

A film by Bettina Thoma-Schade

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