Festival focuses on Caribbean's unique birds
Conservation organisations throughout the Caribbean today launched a month-long celebration of the unique birds found in the region.
The Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival runs from April 22nd, "Earth Day," until May 22nd, "International Biodiversity Day," and is coordinated by the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB). Activities will range from exhibitions of drawings and paintings by local schoolchildren, public lectures, church services, bird-watching excursions, and theatrical productions in celebration of the region's rich bird life.
In launching the Festival, Andrew Dobson, President of SCSCB, said, "This Festival is a celebration of the magnificence and diversity of life found throughout the Caribbean, and an acknowledgement of the region as an irreplaceable repository of global biodiversity. More than one in five Caribbean bird species are found nowhere else on Earth. Thanks to this annual Festival, people will learn to appreciate the value and global significance of our region's birds and other wildlife and join us to help conserve them for future generations to enjoy."
In the first three years of the annual Festival, more than 17,000 persons participated directly, while thousands of others have learned about the bird life and overall biodiversity of the Caribbean through regional media houses.
Dr. Peter Vogel, Lecturer in the Department of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies Mona, said "In the Caribbean, an amazing 22% of the bird species are restricted to the islands. It is the responsibility of every Caribbean national to recognize and cherish these valuable assets with which we have been blessed. These species are an irreplaceable part of our collective natural heritage, and given the global trends in species extinction we must ensure the education of everyone to safeguard their existence."
Members of the international conservation community have called the Festival an unprecedented opportunity for education and the generation of pride in what is uniquely Caribbean biodiversity. They have also noted that this is an important call for greater responsibility to safeguard species and the wider Caribbean environment’s valuable natural assets.
The month-long annual Festival is highlighting the fact that the Caribbean islands are recognized as one of the top three areas on the planet for biodiversity conservation, because of the high number of endemic plant and animal species.
However, according to BirdLife International, the birds of the Caribbean are today more threatened than they have ever been in their history primarily due to destruction of their habitats. BirdLife data shows that 56 species of birds found in the Caribbean are at risk of global extinction, 11 of them are Critically Endangered.