Status of birds in the Bijagos

The Bijagós archipelago is a group of 88 islands and islets located off the coast of Guinea-Bissau and presents a relatively important diversity of habitats, sustaining high levels of biodiversity. It is the second most important gathering of wintering shorebirds in Africa and is part of the 10 critical sites selected by Birdlife International for colonial waterbird species, namely Royal Terns and Caspian Terns.

For its exceptional value, it has been recognized as a Biosphere Reserve, an Important Bird Area and a Ramsar Site. Between 1982 and 2001, there were several expeditions to the Bijagós archipelago that resulted in population estimates for migrating shorebirds during the winter. These varied between 699 120 and 871 750 individuals. After this, only in 2014 another real estimate was produced wielding an estimate of 481 395, half of the previous attempts. Reasons for this decrease remain unknown.

On the other hand, Tern populations have been increasing between 2003-2014. In the Bijagós archipelago the status of these birds still remains very poorly known. However there is several signs that this area remains relatively pristine and presents a good “safe-zone” for migrating shorebirds and these colonial Terns. Nonetheless, this is also a potentially fragile site that needs to be protected. For this, research and conservation efforts are essential altogether to achieve this goal.