World Migratory Bird Day Marked

by Mebratu Hailue

With the theme of “migratory birds and people-together through time”
Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA) in collaboration with
Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History society (EWNHS) on May 12, 2012
at Berga Wetland Important Bird Area (IBA) for the third time nationally
and the 7th time globally.

Speaking
on the celebration, EWCA Acting Director General, Fetene Hailu said
that, to achieve its mission and vision that is being one of the top
five best African countries in 2020 in terms of wildlife tourism, the
participation of the community in natural resource protection is
undeniable. “The Day is celebrated to create awareness on the cultural,
social, historic, economic and spiritual connections we have with
birds,” he added. The Acting Director General mentioned that Berga
Wetland Important Bird Area is selected for the celebration because of
the White- winged Fluff tail. He further said that among 700 mature
individuals in total, 210-215 pairs of Rail endemic to Africa: White-
winged Flufftail come to this breeding area from South Africa to
Ethiopia from the end of May to September. Fetene noted that the young
generation is expected to organize themselves to protect the White-
winged Flufftail from extinction and pass to the next generation.

Head of the Environmental Protection and Land Administration Office of
Berga woreda, Ato Assefa Tilahun mentioned that the government together
with community is organized to make the woreda one of the tourist
destination by protecting the place where the White- winged Fluff tail
is found. The presence of this bird attracted nongovernmental
organizations like EWNHS to solve problems related to clean water and
school construction facilities. He also added that the community needs
to be aware of the challenges that migratory birds facing due to human
activities including excessive land use, unsustainable hunting,
pollution, fisheries by-catch as well as impacts of climate change so as
to ensure that the future generation can benefit and enjoy the
important connection between migratory birds and people.

Ato Bekele Nigussie, Chairperson of Berga Bird Lovers Credit and Saving
Association, stated that the presence of the bird in their local area
helped the members of the association to engage in protecting the area
from illegal practices. With continuous material and financial
assistance of EWNHS, we finally established a credit and saving
association. He explained that at the beginning it was difficult to
convince the local people to clear the cattle from the breeding place of
the bird. “Finally, after we told them that the importance of the bird
to the community as well as our country, we reached in an agreement to
protect the wetland,” he elaborated at field visit.

Education and information Center Head of EWNHS, Zewditu Tessema on her
part explained that each year, over 1.5 million soaring birds migrate
through the Middle East and East Africa along the Rift Valley / Red Sea
Flyway between their breeding grounds in Europe and wintering areas in
Africa. “We need to conserve them for their aesthetic value, cultural
value, economical value, biological value,” she said. According to
Zewditu, hunting, persecution, harvesting, falconry, pesticides,
herbicides, agricultural wastes, solid and liquid wastes, collision with
power lines and wind farms, electrocution, habitat loss are threats on
migratory soaring birds along their flyway.
On the celebration poems were read, traditional songs were prepared
that emphasize the need of protecting the natural resource in general
and the migratory birds in particular.

More than 65 participants from the nearby woreda administrative bureau,
stakeholders and Maru Chebot elementary school students joined this year
celebration of WMBD.