The smallest and the most beautiful species of geese is about to extinct - nobody knows why
Experts say that the lesser white-fronted goose may become extinct in several years. The alarming extinction was the key issue on the agenda at the international ornithologist conference in Finland where researchers discussed the present and future actions meant to save the lesser white-fronted goose from the sweeping extinction. But it is still really very difficult for experts to estimate the basic reasons of this extinction.
This species of goose is the smallest and one of the most beautiful geese. The smaller white-fronted goose is slightly bigger than a duck, but has long legs, a longer neck and a haughty grey head. This goose is a very prominent bird thanks to the black stripes on the chest and belly and its bright orange feet. The goose has a pink beak and white forehead that is why hunters often take this species registered in The Red Book and prohibited for hunting for the white-fronted goose allowed for hunting. The lesser white-fronted goose has typical yellow circles around the eyes and high squeak that has nothing to do with the habitual goose honk.
The lesser white-fronted goose comes to its nesting places by May 25-27 when majority of the territories are still covered with snow. It builds nests at deserted foothills close to lakes or rivers. The reproduction potential of this bird is rather insignificant, as it lays not more than 3-4 eggs. It takes at least three weeks before baby geese hatch out, and baby birds fledge at the end of August as a rule.
Nestlings follow their parents everywhere during the first year of their life; parents must show their nestlings the migration ways. If something happens to parents, nestlings will never join other goose families and cannot find a place for spending the winter. So, even though Scandinavian researchers report they have achieved much success with breeding the lesser white-fronted goose, there are still rather serious problems with setting these nestlings free.
Goose families are known for their unity. The lesser white-fronted goose spends the whole life with its match and stays lonely if it dies.
Ornithologists say that the population of the lesser white-fronted goose was quite enough several tens of years ago; it could be easily found everywhere in Russia’s north and in Northern Europe. The extinction started all of a sudden. There were 50 thousand of birds in the world four years ago, while today various estimates reveal there are just 20-25 thousand of lesser white-fronted geese on the planet and the population is on a steady decrease.
Today, the lesser white-fronted goose builds its nests in fewer places: majority of them build nests in Russia’s north and just few can be found in the north of Norway, Sweden and Finland.
Ornithologists have been working on methods to restore and preserve the world population of the lesser white-fronted goose for 15 years already. Scandinavian experts believe that breeding the bird at special farms may save the situation. And Russian experts are trying to find out why the population of the lesser white-fronted goose is decreasing and make efforts to protect the bird during each period of its life, during building nests, migration and spending the winter.
Wintering and migration pose a serious danger for the lesser white-fronted goose. They as a rule join flocks of other geese while migrating and thus may become an easy prey for hunters. Many birds also die during wintering. The lesser white-fronted goose spends the winter in some parts of South-western Europe, in Europe and China. Experts say that European countries even create special farms for the geese flocks to spend the winter in. But wintering in China is often problematic for the lesser white-fronted goose. In 2000, about one thousand of birds died in China after they pecked toxic corn scattered about fields.