Palmyra: Experts have warned about the possible extinction of a rare bird species, the northern bald ibis, in Syria after its ancient city Palmyra has been captured by the Islamic State.
Three birds held in captivity were abondoned last week after their guards fled the fighting and their fate is unknown, reports the BBC.
Meanwhile, officials have announced a reward of $1,000 (£646) for information about the whereabouts of a fourth bird.
It is crucial to find the missing female, called Zenobia, as she is the only bird who knows the migration routes to wintering grounds in Ethiopia and without her other captive birds cannot be released, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon told the BBC.
In that case, the species could go extinxt in the wild in Syria, noted ornithologists.
A small breeding colony of the northern bald ibis was found near the city in 2002.
The northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita) is a migratory bird found in barren, semi-desert or rocky habitats, often close to running water.
The rare bird was once widespread across the Middle East, northern Africa, southern and central Europe, with a fossil record dating back at least 1.8 million years.
However, it disappeared from Europe over 300 years ago, and is now considered critically endangered.
The IS militants captured Palmyra just days after the Islamic State group took control of the major Iraqi city of Ramadi.