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Thread: Island in Peril

  1. #1
    Senior Member Jacqueline Burrell's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Cairo, Egypt

    Angry Island in Peril

    Last weekend, I sent a couple of days on Crocodile Island in Luxor.

    The minority of island was owned by an Egyptian businessman who built a low rise 300-room resort some twenty years ago. The majority of the island was agricultural land centred round a small mud brick village where the inhabitants were farmers or fishermen.

    It is a year since my last visit, and to my absolute horror, I hardly recognised the place. The businessman has now obtained the entire island at a grossly inflated price and has destroyed the village saving one typical farm house as a ‘museum.’

    Acres of reeds beds have been cleared and dozens of acacia nilotica have cut down, and they are one of the few indigenous trees in that part of the world.

    One particular tree was located on a mini island a few feet from where there had once been reeds beds. At dawn or dusk, there would be up to a hundred cattle egrets perched on the branches. It was also a favourite look out post for the pied kingfishers that now have to make do with a few precarious reeds and in the varied undergrowth there would be squacco, Western reef, grey and purple herons. Around the perimeter, moorhens, a variety of ducks and the occasional Purple Gallinule.

    Within the hotel grounds, every ‘untidy’ plant has been massacred. Among the fatalities were all the justicia adhatoda bushes beloved by the Nile Valley sun birds, and none of the birders on the island including myself saw a single one. The gardens may now be neat and tiny, but the river bank is now a rubbish trip.

    There also some terrible rumours about the ultimate fate of Crocodile Island: an enormous resort, a golf course, a theme park etc. etc.

    In a country such as Egypt, where I doubt the minister of the environment would know the difference between an Egyptian vulture and a house sparrow and virtually no local birders, does anyone have some brilliant ideas about how to mount a campaign?

    Despite the doom and gloom, below is the list of the birds I did see.

    1. 2 Purple Gallinule
    2. 50+ Barn Swallow
    3. 4 Black-headed Gull
    4. 1 Black-shouldered Kite
    5. 6 Black-winged Stilt
    6. 4 Bluethroat
    7. 1 Bulbul
    8. 50+ Cattle Egret
    9. 10+ Chiffchaff
    10. 1 Clamorous Reed Warbler
    11. 1 Cormorant
    12. 6 Crested Lark
    13. 4 Egyptian Black Kite
    14. 10 Eurasian Hoopoe
    15. 3 Eurasian Kestrel
    16. 9 Eurasian Teal
    17. 1 Graceful Prinia
    18. 3 Gray Heron
    19. 6 Gray Wagtail
    20. 10+ Hooded Crow
    21. 100s House Sparrow
    22. 6 Lesser Whitethroat
    23. 6 Little Egret
    24. 4 Little Green Bee-eater
    25. 8 Moorhens
    26. 10+ Palm Dove
    27. 20+ Pied Kingfisher
    28. 4 Purple Heron
    29. 20+ Spur-winged Plover
    30. 30 Squacco Heron
    31. 1 Western Marsh-Harrier
    32. 20+ Western Reef Heron [White Morph]
    33. 2 White Wagtail
    34. 2 Willow Warbler

    The photos show an aerial view of the island, a Nile Valley sunbird on justicia adhatoda, acacia nilotica and the rubbish.

    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Jacqueline Burrell; February 27th, 2008 at 10:14 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Algarve, Portugal



    This is a dreadful story, but welcome to the realities of the circum-mediterranean battle between conservation and property development.

    From the aerial view in your first photo it looks like a very nice place, and your last photo, despite the rubbish, has a couple of cracking birds in it.

    My sympathies,


  3. #3
    Member Christopher Cachia Zammit's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008


    Shamful story!!!! This is what the world came up to.....Hearing stories like this really makes me angry....

    Hope this madness STOPS NOW


    For more info about Birdlife Malta visit -

  4. #4
    Senior Member AndyB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005


    Sorry to hear this Jacqueline. BirdLife does have a representative in Egypt:

  5. #5
    Senior Member Jacqueline Burrell's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Cairo, Egypt


    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Birch View Post
    Sorry to hear this Jacqueline. BirdLife does have a representative in Egypt:
    Thanks Andy, I have contacted Sherif Baha El Din of BirdLife, who incidently lives round the corner from us. So, lets see what transpires.


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