In a bid to promote consciousness of birds’ conservation in Nigeria, especially at coastal and riverine areas, the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) made concerted efforts in engaging students and community dwellers in a participatory conservation activity to commemorate the World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) 2023, with the theme “Water: Sustaining Life”.
The World Migratory Bird Day is an annual awareness-raising campaign celebrated every second Saturday in May and October in a year, to highlight the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats. It has a global outreach and is an effective tool to help raise global awareness of the threats faced by migratory birds, their ecological importance, and the need for international cooperation to conserve them.
This year’s event took place at Totowu community, Egan Igando Alimosho LGA, Lagos State. Totowu is a small village located at Isuti Road in Igando. The village is on the boundary between Lagos State and Ogun State, and the mode of transportation is canoe. Five (5) schools from Igando were selected to benefit from the project, namely T&G School, Aima School, St Bernards School, Speed Academy and St Zita School.
Boat riders and traders within the community were educated on the need for and importance of water to birds, the need to always put out water for birds, as well as building bird feeders, protecting water resources, identifying different categories of birds and how to identify them with the use of binoculars and bird guide.
According to NCF Species Pillar Lead, Dr. Stella Egbe, represented by Ms. Ibukun Lawal, “Water is fundamental to life on our planet. Many migratory birds rely on aquatic ecosystems during their life cycles. Inland and coastal wetlands, rivers, lakes, streams, marshes, and ponds are all vital for feeding, drinking, or nesting, and serve as places to rest and refuel during their long journeys.”
Unfortunately, aquatic ecosystems are becoming increasingly threatened around the world and so are the migratory birds that depend on them. The increasing human demand for water, as well as pollution increase, and climate change, are having direct impact on the availability of clean water and the conservation status of many migratory birds. Climate change is amplifying the impact of habitat destruction by depleting the natural water systems and depriving migratory birds vital breeding and stopover site.
Some bird species that were sighted during the birdwatching exercise were African Jacana (Actophilornis africanus), black heron (Egretta ardesiaca), pied kingfisher (Ceryle rudis), pied crow (Corvus albus), woodland kingfisher (Halcyon senegalensis), cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis), Senegal thick knee (Burhinus senegalensis), African thrush (Turdus pelios), and spur winged lapwing (Vanellus spinosus).
Conservation of water bodies, planning of urbanization around natural waterbodies, conservation and promoting tourism around waterbodies are some of the recommendations emphasised to the participants at the venue. The programme was funded by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF).
Similarly, WMBD was commemorated at NCF Finima office. A bird watching activity was carried out on Saturday 13th of May 2023 by the Finima Nature Park Bird Club to mark the event. A total of 31 species of birds were sited and recorded. Also, a webinar was organized for school students on the 17th of May with a speaker from The Gambia who spoke on the topic: “African Youth and the Role they play in Conservation”. Afterwards, a short birdwatch activity was carried out for participants, followed by a bird drawing competition for the students.
In addition, NCF also commemorated WMBD in Hadejia-Nguru Wetlands by gathering stakeholders including NCF Promoters Committee members; representatives of the Nguru Local Government Council and Traditional Authority; NCF School Conservation Club members from 10 Schools among others, at Government Girls Secondary School, Nguru, Yobe State.
Activities hosted to commemorate the day at Nguru include 3km road walk through the streets of Nguru to further raise awareness of the event, presentations by students on the theme of the event, and bird watching within the Wetlands. The event held on 13th May 2023.