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11.05.2007 General News

World migratory bird day launched

By Albert Oppong Ansah & Jessica Hobart

The impact of global warming has been felt in countless areas of life, from business through sports. But perhaps the most effect has been felt by the flora and fauna. A closer examination of the world's migrating birds sees an unfortunate yet perhaps unprecedented decline of these wonderful nomads of our skies. In light of this, the Ghana Wildlife Society is celebrating this year"s World Migratory Bird Day on the theme 'Migratory birds in a changing climate'.

The aim of WMBD is to draw to light the plight of migrating birds and the way in which they are being affected both by climate change and human activity. Whilst the Wildlife Society's campaign is being held nationally within Ghana, their message is targeted for an international audience. The concern of migrating birds, travelling to and from Africa and Europe, is a global source of consideration.

Bird migration is one of the most impressive national phenomena, as birds flock thousands of miles, gracing the shores of many countries, in search of an ecosystem in which to live in. The harsh reality however is that 12% of all bird species are considered threatened whilst 44% of all water birds are in decline or have become extinct.

The Ghana Wildlife Society attributes some of the causes of this poignant decline to land use owing to agriculture, non-breeding areas which have suffered, such as from drought or desertification and disease and parasitic outbreak among others.

However their paramount concern is to highlight the role and responsibility of humans and climate change. These two factors both hold mankind accountable, whilst yielding a positive outcome in that change, awareness and education are achievable goals.

A key concern attached to migrating birds is avian influenza. A fear in the past of our neighbouring countries, it is now a contentious area of worry for Ghanaians as a few cases have mounted panic. Ngeh Chiambeng Paulinus, sub-regional coordinator for Bird life International programme, was careful to clarify that there is at present no link between migrating birds and bird flu. He said The Wildlife Society is involved in much investigation and research into the initial source of bird flu and at present no evidence exists to show migrating birds to be the originators in Ghana. What is known however is that there is a link between bird flu and wild birds.

The Ghana Wildlife Society's immediate response to this concern is creating packages to sensitise people to bird flu in order to create awareness and education, in particular to avoid panic with regards to bird flu. In contrast they said the emphasis should be transferred to protecting the birds ecology, without which migrating birds will become extinct.

Research clearly illustrates birds migrate, tracking the climate in which they are used to, rather than adapting to the new climate. At present migrating birds are unable to get enough energy to make the flight to Europe's shores. The conservation of bird habitats, research and protection of these birds is the society's next step.