Giving verve to Nigeria’s Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas
As part of its commitment and dedication to the conservation and management of Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) within and outside protected areas, the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF, BirdLife Partner) has conducted an Annual Water Bird Census at Hadejia-Nguru Wetlands in Yobe and Jigawa States. This was also followed up with a capacity building workshop on effective monitoring of IBAs in Cross Rivers State, facilitated by NCF’s Ruth Akagu and Professor Augustine Ezealor, a renowned ornithologist.
The exercise was carried out with the support of Mr. Y.M. Kolo, Conservator of Cross River National Park (CRNP). The 2016 training was targeted at 10 unprotected IBAs, in contrast to the 2015 training, which focused strictly on Protected Areas.
The main purpose of the Water Bird Census was to ascertain the population of water birds. The census took place in six communities: Baturia, Nguru Lake, Dagona, Gsahua (new site), Katagum and Marma Chanel. Water bird species seen included storks, herons, geese, ducks and cormorants. A total of 166,439 individual birds across 212 species were recorded in the six sites visited.
The IBA workshop focused on IBAs in unprotected areas. The participants were taught basic bird identification techniques, standardised collection and recording of scientific birds and habitats data (using the IBA monitoring form and the use of the Monitoring Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT) ), emerging conservation opportunities (carbon credits, payment for ecosystem services, ecotourism etc.) and establishment of Site Support Groups (SSGs).
The participants acquired skills in basic field techniques on bird sampling and identification, effective utilisation of the IBA form and METT framework and learned about the processes involved in establishing SSGs. They also received field equipment (field guides, binoculars and GPS) to further develop their expertise in IBA monitoring.
The training was funded by the RSPB (Birdlife in the UK) and facilitated by NCF with support from A.P. Leventis Ornithological Research Institute and National Park Service.