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Kenya marks world migratory bird day at Lake Naivasha
Date Published: 15 May, 2013
Kenya on May 11, 2013 marked the World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) with a regional event at the shores of Lake Elementaita to raise awareness on the need to conserve migratory birds and their habitats.
The event was hosted by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement with funding from the German Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).
The event brought together government officials, nature conservationists, scientists and the general public and was preceded by a five-day International Training of Trainers (ToT) workshop on the flyway approach to the conservation and wise use of waterbirds and wetlands at the Kenya Wildlife Service Training Institute (KWSTI) in Naivasha. The training targeted participants from Eastern and Southern African countries.
The World Migratory Bird Day is commemorated in every continent, connecting people and cultures around the globe in the same way that migratory birds do on their journeys each year. However, the impacts of people around the world have led to habitat loss and degradation, greatly affecting many migratory bird species. The survival of migratory birds depends on the availability of well-connected networks of habitats along their migration routes for breeding, feeding and resting.
This year’s WMBD theme was “Networking for migratory birds” aimed at emphasizing both ecological networks as well as networks between organizations and individuals and their mutual importance for the long term conservation of migratory birds.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Nakuru County Commissioner, Mr. Amos Gathecha, the Nakuru Governor, Mr. Kinuthia Mbugua cautioned the public against engaging in activities that damage sites through habitat fragmentation and degradation that pose a grave threat to migratory bird species.
“The survival of migratory birds depends on the availability of well-connected networks of habitats along their migration routes for breeding, feeding, resting and wintering. We therefore need to protect such habitats across the international boundaries to ensure continued survival of these migratory birds”, the Governor urged.
The event was marked with entertainment by various schools, education programmes and presentations on migratory birds by the National Museums of Kenya (NMK), the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) and UNEP.
Local environmental groups in the area as well as leading nature conservationists such as Mrs. Fleur Ng’weno were also recognized and honoured at the event.
According to a 2011 report commissioned by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the rates of decline in the East African region are among the highest of any ecological system in the world.
Many migrating birds such as Cranes, Storks, Shorebirds and Eagles travel thousands of kilometers across flyways that span countries, continents and even the entire globe. Yet pressures resulting from a growing human population, rapid urbanization, pollution, climate change and unsustainable use of natural areas are causing the loss, fragmentation and degradation of natural habitats along the birds’ migration routes and threatening their survival.
Lake Elementaita which was chosen to host the regional WMBD event is known to be one of the world’s major breeding colonies of the Great White Pelican and the area also sustains 75 per-cent of the near threatened Lesser Flamingo. Lake Elementaita is part of the Kenya Lakes Systems, a network of sites that supports 11 globally threatened bird species. It was designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA) in 1999, a Ramsar site in 2005 and was proclaimed as a National Wildlife Sanctuary in 2010.
The global WMBD campaign is backed by a growing number of international partners including: BirdLife International, Wetlands International, the Secretariat of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP), the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) and UNEP.