2,801Grants to


Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 13256311

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 13256311) - Dwarf olive ibis - Awarded $7,850 on July 10, 2013

This project is developed in the tropical forest of Sao Tome, identified as the third top priority ecoregion for forest-dependent birds at a global scale (Buchanan et al. 2011). Collar & Stuart 1988 also considered the south west forest of this island as the second most important in Africa for bird conservation. Overall, Sao Tome is a biodiversity hotspot that supports a rich fauna and flora with high levels of species endemism including 3 mammals, 6 reptiles, 3 amphibians, 81 flowering plants and 15 birds (Jones & Tye 2006).

Despite its outstanding importance, the forest of Sao Tome and its biodiversity face numerous threats including, habitat destruction and degradation, introduced predator alien species, hunting pressure and human disturbance.

As a result, many endemics are at risk. Three birds are Critically Endangered, 1 is Endangered and further 6 are Vulnerable (IUCN 2014). The Dwarf Olive Ibis is at greatest risk of extinction due to a small declining population threatened by hunting and habitat loss (c. 50-250 individuals). The populations of Sao Tome Fiscal and Sao Tome Grosbeak, the other 2 species targeted by this project, are more stable but remain small.

All three target species appear to be restricted to the remaining natural forest in the south west of the island, part of the Obo Natural Park, but little is known about their distribution within this area, their ecology, habitat requirements and to what extent each threat impacts their populations. Gathering this information is vital for the conservation of these species.

At the same time it is essential to raise in-country awareness of the importance of nature conservation. The protection of the forest is crucial to guarantee a range of ecosystem services for the people of Sao Tome, including clean water, crop pollination, food and timber. All work has been done in collaboration with a local guides association and Sao Tome governmental authorities. The main result of the project was the identification and quantification of the impact of oil-palm on the 3 CR birds. It was found that oil-palm concessions have led to the deforestation of a significant area of high conservation value forest where the Dwarf Olive Ibis once occurred. This information was and will continue to be communicated to key stakeholders to ensure that such a catastrophe does not happen again.


The overall goal of the project: Key sites for 3 CR species on Sao Tome identified and protected, and knowledge of ecology and threats increased.


  • Improve knowledge of distribution and abundance, identify potential threats and broad habitat requirements of the 3 CR species through field surveys;
  • Raise awareness among stakeholders, including Natural Park Authority, Forestry Department and developers of the distribution and abundance of species and identify approaches to conserve them and their habitat;
  • Increase local capacity to establish long term sustainable monitoring and conservation programme for 3 CR species.


The project team would like to thank the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund for their support for the project. The funding enabled the survey to be undertaken, which was highly successful and has provided extensive new data on the critically endangered birds of the island.

About SPEA

Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves (SPEA) is a nonprofit scientific association founded in 1993, which promotes the study and conservation of birds and is the BirdLife International partner in Portugal. SPEA works towards the study and conservation of wild birds and their habitats by promoting sustainable development for the benefit of future generations.


Project 13256311 location - Sao Tome and Principe, Africa