iraqi marsh on Euphrates RiverThe vast and ancient wetlands between the Tigress and Euphrates rivers in Iraq is considered by some to be the original Garden of Eden.

It teemed with wildlife and small fishermen until the 1980s, when Saddam Hussein drained the great wetlands turning them to desert, as political retribution against his enemy, the Marsh Arabs.

Since Saddam’s overthrow, a remarkable restoration effort has led to stunning success in the Mesopotamian Marshes. (For background, read the 2006 story in the Good News Network.)

In the last year, a BBC film crew witnessed the return of rare birds — by the thousands — as they documented what they called the largest restoration of habitat in the world and followed one man who grew up on the river and returned to help resurrect it.

“This year, with the help of ornithologists from BirdLife International, they counted a single flock of rare marbled teal on the lakes, numbering at least 40,000 birds. Marbled teal only live in the region, and across the border in countries such as Turkey. The drying of the wetlands under Saddam caused the population to fall so significantly that it is now considered Endangered.”

The film aired on PBS’s Nature, is a production of Aqua Vita Films and the BBC in association with WNET.

WATCH the preview below from NATURE and see the full documentary from PBS here.

Read the UK news story last week when it was broadcast on the BBC… Also, UK residents can view clips on BBC, here. (Thanks to contributor Jason Stamp, for sending the link!)

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