Rescuing the Gift of Africa

Earlier, man had utilized terrestrial means of transport to move from place to place and to transport his baggage. Through time, he envisaged to use speedy means of transport, tackled every challenge he encountered and finally has become successful by making vehicles that swim in the air fast carrying him and his belongings.
Some literatures state that the flying activity of birds is the main scene that initiated men to invent air craft to get them flown in the sky with unparalleled comfort and speed. They further state that birds are creations that human beings mostly used as a model to begin making flying vehicles with wings such as airplanes acquaintance with the science of aeronautics.
Based on the aforementioned information, for bringing a turning point in the history of the development of means of transport and the inception of the aviation industry, the contribution of birds is significant.
Little is known about birds among most people, even the understanding among those who deal with wild animals is not that much extensive. Really, birds are amazing creatures. They have unique characteristics that keep them at variance from other wildlife. Their special capacity of flying enables them to move easily from one area to another. Some species cross the boundaries of nations, even continents seasonally with no difficulty. They build their own shelters, the nest, craftily. In addition to being tourist attractions, they are one of the natural agents that disperse seeds out of which plant species are spread. Not only this, their contribution for the ecological balance is immense. Their color variations and aesthetic beauty is wonderful and unmatched when compared with other wildlife. Also, some cultures attach seasonal emergence of birds and their songs to some future events.
However, these beautiful creatures, presently, have been exposed to various manmade and natural disasters that brought their existence to threat.
In response to this, various bodies are being involved in the efforts of conservation of birds’ species to the extent of creating collaboration among the international community on the cause of preserving them.
One among such bodies is the secretariat of the African-Eurasian Migratory Water birds Agreement that co-ordinates national efforts for the conservation of water birds, by organizing meetings and assisting projects.
In this connection, the Ethiopian Wildlife conservation Authority has conducted the 2nd meeting of Afro-Eurasian Migratory-birds Agreement (AEWA) that was held from 10-12 August, 2015, in Addis Ababa, at Kaleb Hotel.
In the opening session, the Director General of the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority, Ato Dawud Mummie delivered an introductory remark in which he conveyed a welcoming message to the gathering. In the remark, he stated that the number of critically endangered bird species is increasing from time to time and expressed that the meeting will devise a mechanism for the implementation of the single species action plan for the White Winged Fluff tail, so as to save the species from extinction.
Representing the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Ato Asseffa Kessito, Advisor of the Minister, who officially opened the meeting remarked that the Ethiopian Government has implemented a wildlife conservation policy and established the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority after which the management of the protected areas has been improved.
The meeting has brought together participants from South Africa, Ethiopia and the Secretariat of AEWA.
During the working session, the meeting among others, has discussed on the international single species action plan for the conservation of the White Winged Fluff tail based on the presentations from the Ethiopian and South African national groups.
Presenting the Ethiopian progress report, Ato Mihret Ewnetu, senior Expert of Wildlife Research and Monitoring with EWCA, and Technical Focal Person of the AEWA, has indicated that currently the white winged fluff tail species in Ethiopia are under serious threat from various man made factors and that it requires concerted and integrated efforts from concerned bodies - government, NGOS and the community around the habitat of the species in order to reverse the situation and realize increasing trend in the population of the species.
In the South Africa’s presentation it was reported that the species is sometimes seen in the country but very rarely than previously. However, it was also indicated that efforts are being made to further spread awareness among the public.
The meeting has also discussed the website and internet services of the international working group, terms of reference for the international working group, priority measures to save the White Winged Fluff tail, urgent conservation actions, fund raising and reporting and budgetary issues.
The 3rd meeting is decided to be held in South Africa and that the exact date to be notified in the future based on the response from the government of South Africa.
It was also stated that the responsibility to seek financial resource for the 3rd meeting has been entrust to the government of the hosting nation.
In the meeting, Ethiopia has transferred the position of the chairman ship of the forum which it held for the past three years to South Africa.
In a remark he forwarded at the end of the meeting Technical Officer of the Secretariat of AEWA Mr. S. Dereliev said that the secretariat works strenuously to save the white winged fluff tail and other birds from further threat and extinction.
The meeting was chaired by Ato Kahsay Gebre Tensay, Director of Research and Study Directorate of EWCA and Representative of the Director General of the Authority.
Concluding the discussion, the chairperson remarked that Ethiopia has always been ready to work cooperatively with the secretariat of AEWA and that it will continue intensified efforts launched to save the white winged fluff tail from further threat.
On 12th of August, participants made a site visit to Berga community area and the habitat of the white winged fluff tail and took photos.
Meantime, some sample birds were caught and body part sizes and weight was recorded and blood specimen was taken for further examination.
It should be noted that community centered projects were carried out at Berga area with a view to save the habitat from further interference and the bird from extinction which resulted in positive outcomes.
The white-wringed fluff tail (Sarothrura ayresi) is a small, secretive, little known rail endemic to Africa. Earlier, it was reported that the bird occurs in Ethiopia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. However, recent studies indicate that they are best seen in central Ethiopia and Eastern South Africa in highland wetlands during the wet season.
Despite all the efforts to date, the desire to categorize the white winged fluff tail bird of Ethiopia and South Africa either as a geographically separated distinct species or migratory birds that swim in the air for a distance of 4000 KMs seasonally between the two countries, is still remained a riddle to be resolved.
The effort to rehabilitate the species and save from extinction is part of the global effort to secure the eco-system of the planet.
It is clear that the bird is under serious threat as a result of climatic change and varied human activities such as agricultural expansion and other development works. Moreover, the bird has already been categorized as endangered in the IUCN Red List.
Therefore, we call up on concerned governments and bodies working in the sector and watch dog of wildlife to extend their support to strengthen the effort to save the species from extinction.