Page last updated at 10:16 GMT, Tuesday, 31 March 2009 11:16 UK

New hope for endangered bald ibis

Bald ibis
Bald ibis cling to survival in the Middle East and Africa

Two young adult bald ibis spotted in Syria could be mean new hope for the critically endangered species, Scottish-based conservationists report.

The bird, which was revered by the Egyptian Pharaohs, clings to survival in the Middle East and Africa.

RSPB staff picked up a report of two birds that did not have identification rings during a visit to Syria to study rare migratory species.

This would suggest the pair were previously unknown to conservationists.

Martin Scott, who works on the Western Isles and is one of four RSPB officers on the trip, said in an internet blog that it could also indicate there was an as yet undiscovered location where the bald ibis was surviving.

Hunters, poisonings and starvation have been blamed for the species' decline.

The RSPB officers were able to watch two tagged birds, nicknamed Sultan and Zenobia, on a reserve.

They have also observed sociable lapwings - another endangered bird - during their visit.

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