Conservation of velvet scoter on Tabatskuri Lake in Georgia

Conservation of Velvet Scoter on Tabatskuri Lake in Georgia

The populations of velvet scoter (Melanitta fusca) is decreasing worldwide and the species is classified as Vulnerable by IUCN. Within the Western Palearctic two populations are recognized: a large population of northern Europe and western Russia and a small, isolated population in eastern Turkey, Georgia and Armenia, the size of which is unknown (Jensen et al. 2007). Not long ago the breeding area of velvet scoter included several lakes of Javakheti plateau (Saghamo, Paravani, Khanchali, Kartsakhi and Tabatskuri), South Georgia (Kutubidze 1985). However, due to direct habitat destruction, overfishing and illegal hunting, the breeding area of velvet scoter is critically reduced and currently the species could only be found in Tabatskuri Lake. The aim of the proposed project is to support the conservation of velvet scoter by means of increasing our knowledge of the population status and awareness rising of the local community and other stakeholders. Within the framework of the project we will gain detailed information on the spatial distribution of velvet scoter, its population size and breeding success based on which we will be able to provide objective recommendations to the stakeholders for its conservation. The result of the project will provide a basis for the restoration and protection of velvet scoter populations in Georgia.

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