13 November 2018

Photo caption: Tony Douglas – Group Chief Executive Officer Etihad Aviation Group and Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri – Executive Director of the Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector, Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi holding the Etihad Aviation Group’s flamingo, Amelia.

Etihad Airways and Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi launch the Abu Dhabi Birdathon to commemorate the Year of Zayed 

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, and the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD), today launched the Abu Dhabi Birdathon at the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve. The initiative celebrates the Year of Zayed by honouring and commemorating the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s deep connection to sustainability.

10 Greater Flamingos were tagged and released at a special ceremony to commence the Abu Dhabi Birdathon and enable tracking of these migratory birds in order to raise awareness around wetland conservation. The flamingo which has migrated the furthest by 4 March 2019, coinciding with World Wildlife Day, will be declared the ‘winner’.

Etihad Airways and EAD invited several strategic partners including the Department of Transport in Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Police, Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC), Masdar, ADNOC and First Abu Dhabi Bank to participate in the event by tagging their own flamingos. Etihad Airways Engineering and Etihad Cargo also tagged birds to enter the event.

Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group said: “We are thrilled to launch this project with the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi to honour a great visionary’s passion for wildlife release programmes.

“As these beautiful birds take flight, satellite transmitters will not only allow us to obverse their migratory patterns as they travel towards the Caspian Sea, but also preserve the emirate’s rich biodiversity.”

Over the next four months the flamingos are expected to migrate to breeding grounds over 4,000 kilometres away in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, with www.adbirdathon.ae tracking their journey home.

Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Executive Director of the Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector, Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, said: “We have been tagging and tracking migratory birds since 2005 and the information collected has helped us identify areas of conservation significance for these birds.

“Today, the Abu Dhabi Birdathon is our way of sharing a passion for conservation with our strategic partners while paying tribute to our founding father’s vision.”

In 1998, it was the late Sheikh Zayed who observed the successful breeding of the Greater Flamingo in Abu Dhabi for the first time, and recognised the potential of Al Wathba as a safe breeding ground for the species. Today, Al Wathba sits proudly among 18 other protected areas, as part of the Sheikh Zayed Protected Areas Network.