The Sociable Lapwing has undergone a rapid decline of more than 90% since the 1930s. Reasons for this decline were poorly understood at the start of this project, but it now appears that the main reason is low adult and juvenile survival, probably due to hunting pressure on the migration route, and possibly in some of the wintering range states. Sociable Lapwings currently breed in very few restricted areas of the Kazakh steppes and in the central part of southern Russia, with an estimated population of 16,000-17,000 individuals in total.
Birds use one of two migration routes. The western path is the primary route where birds move from the breeding grounds across the top of the Caspian Sea, down through Turkey and the Middle East, wintering mainly in North Africa and the Middle East. Until recently, the eastern route (across the Hindu Kush into Pakistan and India) was thought to be used by far fewer birds, but probably holds up to a third of the global population.
In order to better understand the puzzle of the Sociable Lapwing, Swarovski Optik began funding work on the species, building on the April 2006 to March 2009 Darwin Project Conserving a flagship steppe species: the Critically Endangered Sociable Lapwing.
Swarovski Optik became the BirdLife Species Champion in 2010, funding the development of The Amazing Journey website to show the incredible migrations that were being undertaken. A lot has been learned over the past decade, and coming soon is a series of blogs that will detail The Story So Far.