Partnerships strengthen migratory bird conservation in West Africa
Six countries in West Africa have committed to conserving Important Bird Areas (IBAs) for migratory birds along their coastlines. This is the outcome of a recent joint workshop organised by BirdLife and Wetlands International. “The project offers an opportunity for coordinated monitoring and conservation of IBAs along the coast of West Africa, and for capacity building, which is crucial for migratory bird conservation, as well as enhancement of the livelihoods of local communities”, said Dr Hazell Shokellu Thompson - Africa regional director of BirdLife International.
Over 40% of long-distance migrants in the African-Eurasian flyway have shown signs of decline over the last three decades. Of these 10% are classified by BirdLife as Globally Threatened or Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. Along the coast of West Africa - from Guinea to Mauritania – over 170 migratory species have been recorded including Vulnerable Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris and Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola, and Near Threatened Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca.
“This coastline is crucial for many migratory birds”, said Dr Paulinus Ngeh – BirdLife’s West Africa Sub-regional Coordinator. “Out of a total of 43 Important Bird Areas in the region that qualify because of migratory birds, 22 have no conservation action”.
Key threats to migratory birds indentified in the region at the workshop include agricultural intensification, pollution, commercial and residential development, unsustainable harvesting of natural resources and unsustainable hunting, modification of habitats such as wetlands, invasive species and human disturbance.
“This coastline is crucial for many migratory birds” —Dr Paulinus Ngeh, BirdLife’s West Africa Sub-regional Coordinator
Some of the critical IBAs for migratory birds in the region include Banc d'Arguin National Park and Chott Boul (Mauritania), Delta du Saloum and Djoudj Wetlands (Senegal), Arquipélago dos Bijagós (Guinea Bissau), Sierra Leone River Estuary, and Iles Tristao (Guinea).
Participants from Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Mauritania, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Gambia met at the four-day workshop in Dakar, Senegal. They represented civil society organisations, government institutions and conservation programmes and initiatives in the region. “Together, they identified and agreed on a network of sites and species, as well as a menu of conservation actions that would be undertaken over the four-year life span of the project”, added Dr Ngeh.
“The partnership and participatory approach, adopted right from the onset of the project development process, is one of the outstanding results of the workshop, and a laudable approach for the conservation of migratory birds”, said Ibrahima Thiam, Africa regional director of Wetlands International.
Funding for the workshop came from the Mava Foundation with additional funds from BirdLife International and Wetlands International. The workshop aimed to develop a regional project for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats along the coast of West Africa. The Mava Foundation contributes to maintaining terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, promoting scientific research, training and integrated management practices, while securing a future for local populations in cultural, economic and ecological terms.
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