Harteman Wildfowl, presented by Jan Harteman

Blue-winged goose

Cyanochen cyanopterus 

Blauwvleugelgans / Blauflügelgans / Oie à ailes bleues d'Ethiope

 

The Blue-winged Goose is a waterfowl species which is endemic to Ethiopia. It is the only member of the genus Cyanochen.

The relations of this species among the waterfowl is unresolved. It is morphologically close to shelducks (genus Tadorna), and particularly the South American sheldgeese (genus Chloephaga), which have highly similar courtship displays. However, mitochondrial DNA sequence analyses of the cytochrome b and NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2 genesindicates that it might belong to a very distinct and ancient "duck" clade, together with Hartlaub's duck, another African species of uncertain affinities. The wing color pattern, a good morphological indicator of evolutionary relationships in waterfowl, is similar in these two species, and very different from any other waterfowl.


The habitats of the Blue-winged Goose are primarily rivers, freshwater lakes, swamps, freshwater marshes, water storage areas, and subtropical or tropical high-altitude shrubland or grassland.

 

This species qualifies as Vulnerable (IUCN, 2012) as data indicates that it has a small population which is declining owing to the drainage and degradation of its highland wetland habitat, and potentially the more recent threat posed by hunting. The population is estimated to number 5,000-15,000 individuals, roughly equating to 3,300-10,000 mature individuals.


It was not formerly thought to be threatened by hunting as, for religious reasons, it is not traditionally eaten  (Callaghan and Green 1993). However, recent reports and observations show that local people now trap this and other wildfowl for sale to the country's growing Chinese population. At some sites such as Gefersa Reservoir (30km west of Addis Ababa) which used to hold large populations, the species is now scarce (Y. Abebe in litt. 2012). It is now also almost certainly under pressure because of the rapidly expanding human population and resulting drainage and degradation of wetlands and grasslands, and increased levels of disturbance (Scott and Rose 1996). Agricultural intensification (privatisation) and droughts are also possible threats (T. Dodman in litt. 2000; Scott and Rose 1996).


Conservation Actions Underway
Important breeding areas in the Bale Mountains National Park and Guassa Community Conservation Area are protected.

 

Conservation Actions Proposed
Regularly monitor the species at selected sites across its range to determine trends. Study movements using radio telemetry to discover additional important sites. Protect important breeding and non-breeding sites, in both strictly protected areas and in multiple use community led conservation units. Monitor, raise awareness of, and encourage the authorities to control hunting, perhaps through dialogue with the Chinese Embassy (Y. Abebe in litt. 2012).


More information: http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22679961/0


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Above: adult male Blue-winged goose


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Above: adult male Blue-winged goose taking a bath


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Above: adult pair of Blue-winged geese (male in front)


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Above: Blue-winged gosling


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Above: The nest has not been covered with down yet as the clutch has not been completed.


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Above: Blue-winged gosling of several days old


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Above: Blue-winged gosling


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Above: adult pair of Blue-winged geese (male in front)


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Above: adult pair of Blue-winged geese (male in front)

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