25 Aug 2014

World Migratory Bird Day 2014: Lake Natron, Tanzania - a Global Tourism Spot

Lesser Flamingos with chicks at Lake Natron (Photo: Sean Avery)
By policy.internairobi


The World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) 2014 in the United Republic of Tanzania will be celebrated on 28th August at Ngare Sero Village on the shores of Lake Natron.  The event is collaboratively organized by BirdLife International, the Wildlife Division in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, together with district and local leaders.  It is financially supported by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) through the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (UNEP/AEWA), an international treaty administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Lake Natron is an important site, not only for tourism in the United Republic of Tanzania but for the greater East Africa region, and, indeed, for the world.  It is a stopover for many migratory birds and is the only regular breeding location for the 1.5 million - 2.5 million Lesser Flamingos (Phoeniconaias minor) found in Eastern Africa. This population represents 75% of the global population of the species.  

The event is being held against the backdrop of Destination Flyways, a new global initiative led by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).  Through Destination Flyways, some of the world’s estimated 50 billion migratory birds will soon benefit from sustainable tourism development.  Lake Natron has been selected as one of eight pilot sites globally and is one of only three such sites in all Africa. Destination Flyways will work to safeguard the birds’ habitats, while creating livelihood opportunities for local communities along migratory routes. 

A UNWTO mission visited Lake Natron in March 2014, and held consultations with local communities and other stakeholders regarding the initiative. Local stakeholders warmly received the initiative.

“The Ngare Sero event will bring together stakeholders from all walks of life. Political leaders, local communities, park authorities, the AEWA Focal Point from Kenya, school children, private sector and the press, will be represented”, said Festo Semanini, the Head of BirdLife Office in Tanzania. “There will be a procession to mark the event, songs, skits, a writing competition among the school children and speeches from distinguished guests.”

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The organization of this event is a demonstration of the continued collaboration amongst all key players at Lake Natron.  “Experience has shown that greater success is achieved when Government agencies, NGOs, the private sector and leaders at all levels work together.  We believe that this WMBD event will go a long way in cementing this collaboration for enhanced protection of Lake Natron”, said Mr. Sadiki Laisser Lotha, the Communication Education and Public Awareness (CEPA) Officer, Wildlife Division-Wetland Unit, Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Tanzania.

 “The celebration of World Migratory Bird Day at Lake Natron and the choice of Lake Natron as one of the Destination Flyway sites is a demonstration of the international community’s confidence in Government, civil society and local communities in the United Republic of Tanzania and the East African region to safeguard the site” said Ken Mwathe, the Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at BirdLife International Africa Regional Office.  “We must affirm this confidence by promoting the values of Lake Natron for the benefit of the people and biodiversity”, he said

The annual World Migratory Bird Day campaign is organized by the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) – two intergovernmental wildlife treaties administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). For this year’s campaign, CMS and AEWA partnered with UNWTO and others to highlight the mutually beneficial relationship between tourism and conservation.

World Migratory Bird Day 2014 was celebrated in over 70 countries on 10-11 May and focused on the role sustainable tourism can play in conserving one of the world’s true natural wonders: the spectacular movements of migratory birds along their flyways. For more information please see:

For more information please contact: Festo Semanini, BirdLife Tanzania Project Office Tel: +255755766552 Email: or Sadiki Laisser Lotha, Wildlife Division, Ministry of natural Resources and Tourism Tel: +255754203925 Email


Story by Ken Mwathe and Festo Semanini  - Email: