In 1981, Günter Wennich of the Volgelpark Walsrode founded the World Working Group on Storks, Ibises and Spoonbills under the aegis of the International Council for Bird Preservation (ICBP). The primary intention of the group was to coordinate data gathering from around the world to determine the status of all species of storks, ibises and spoonbills (SIS). Given its origin, the group had a strong foundation in the use of captive breeding of endangered species and to facilitate their release into the wild where appropriate.
Günter retired from Vogelpark in 1982, and the task of helping the group get off the ground and reach out to experts globally fell on his successor Charles Luthin, the second Chair of the fledgling group. With support from the W.W. Brehm Fund for International Bird Conservation and other organisations, Charlie initiated the publications of annual reports of the World Working Group. He corresponded with ornithologists worldwide, visited various locations in multiple continents, and collated the status reports of all the SIS species.
Charles also started the first regular publication of this group named “Specialist Group Storks, Ibis and Spoonbills Newsletter”. Charlie continued the publication of the newsletter until he left the group in 1988-89 when Malcolm Coulter and Koen Brouwer took over as Co-chairs. The newsletter was supported by multiple organisations, and published until 1995. The newsletters serve to remind us of the long and distinguished history of this Specialist Group.
Wim van den Bossche replaced Koen as Co-chair, and the duo led the group until Malcolm’s untimely passing in January 2013. Wim provided the much-needed contiguity to the group, and Luis Santiago Cano joined the SG as his Co-chair in 2014.
In September 2015, Wim stepped down from his position as Co-chair and was replaced by Gopi Sundar. Luis and Gopi – along with several volunteers – initiated the process of modernizing the group, which included starting the website in 2016, along with restarting the publication, this time as “Stork, Ibis and Spoonbill Conservation” (SISC).
The group’s logo aims to show the diversity of three broad taxonomic groups that this SG focuses on. The logo showcases: (1) endangered species, represented by the Milky Stork; (2) geographically restricted and poorly-studied species, represented by the Black Ibis; and (3) widespread species, represented by the Eurasian Spoonbill.
The logo was unanimously approved by the membership and IUCN SSC in June 2016.