Project title: Assessment of the wintering population, conservation requirements and priority actions for Roseate tern (Sterna dougallii) in Ghana

Project Code: 2RO-G-LIFE (LIFE14 NAT/UK/000394 ROSEATE TERN)

Implementer: Centre for African Wetlands

Start Date: 5.09.2016                                End Date: 31.03.2018

Report Period: September 2016 to March 2018


                                         Prepared by
Jones K. Quartey, Alfred A. Nuoh, Emmanuel Taye & Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu

The project "Improving the conservation prospects of the priority species roseate tern throughout
its range in the UK and Ireland" is supported by the LIFE Programme of the European Union.

1.0 Background information
Migration is an important phenological process in the annual cycle of waterbirds that enables them to escape unfavourable conditions at certain times of the year and provides them opportunity to breed in one area and spend the non-breeding season in other latitudes. This means that sites selected for the non-breeding period should be of good quality in order to enhance the survival of the species. The quality of a non-breeding site may depend on food supply, level of disturbances, predation, competition for space and other resources (Piersma, 2012). The 550 km coast of Ghana has been observed to be an important non-breeding hub for different species of waterbirds that ply the East Atlantic Flyway. Waterbirds that occur in importantly significant numbers along Ghana’s coast include eleven species of waders and four species of terns, roseate tern Sterna dougallii, common tern Sterna hirundo, sandwich tern Thalasseus sandvicensis and black tern Chlidonias niger (Ntiamoa-Baidu, 1991).

The roseate tern is principally a tropical species, but there are temperate populations in Western Europe and North America, with another breeding population occurring in South Africa (Cabot & Nisbet, 2013). The Western European population of roseate tern spend the non-breeding season along the western coast of Africa, with the highest population, arguably, in Ghana (van Roomen et al., 2015).

The roseate tern populations suffered declines since the late 1960s and has been of particular conservation interest, but has been recovering since early-1990s (Cabot & Nisbet, 2013). Decline in the Western European population of the roseate tern occurred simultaneously at all colonies and thus it has been linked to anthropogenic threats faced by the species, especially on non-breeding grounds (Cabot, 1996). It had been established that many terns were lost through trapping on the Ghana coast (Ntiamoa-Baidu, 1988), which was reinforced by a relatively high proportion of ring recoveries (around 80%) from roseate terns from Ghana (Mead, 1978), majority of which came from the trapped birds (Avery et al., 1995; Dunn & Mead, 1982).

The published data on the location and intensity of trapping is infrequent, but Dunn and Mead, 1982 reported that on nine days between 5 and 22 October 1979, 128 terns were seen caught at Accra, most of them 1st winter common terns (44 birds) and 1st winter Sandwich terns (30 birds). Other species included black terns (11), royal terns (5) Arctic terns (2) and roseate terns (1).


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