Last Saturday, Nature Seychelles in conjunction with the Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles (WCS) mounted a fun-filled bird festival complete with an educational component to sensitize the public on the importance of the World Migratory Bird Day.
The North region Coordinator Mr. Jerry Sinon and other leaders were on hand to ensure that the programme they had put together was one filled with excitement and fun at La Promenade in Victoria and that nothing went wrong. Commemorated worldwide the World Migratory Bird Day aims at spreading the message on the importance of migratory birds as beacons of biodiversity and conservation. The 2008 World Migratory Bird Day theme is “Migratory Birds: Ambassadors for biodiversity”.
At La Promenade, scores of about 100 children and young adults, members of WCS and Nature Seychelles assembled from all the regions in Mahe and hosted a plethora of events to sensitise the general public on the importance of migratory birds. The World Migratory Bird Day’s activities were officially flagged off by Nature Seychelles CEO, Nirmal Shah, who urged the public to seek to understand birds as they are “the best thermometer of the health of the environment surrounding any community in the world. Seychelles included.”
According to WCS coordinator Lyndy Bastienne Corgat “The theme for 2008 was meant to mobilize the public to the link between migratory birds and wider biodiversity as well as the general state of our environment. This is because birds are considered to be some of the best pointers for the status and trends of wider biodiversity owing to their connection as inhabitants of practically all ecosystems in the world.”
At La Promenade mud flat, the activities of the day included; bird watching, puppet shows, short plays, skits and assorted games all relevant to the theme of the day. As has become the practice for WCS during such functions, the participants were divided into several groups, to cater for bird watching, and the other to gather information on migratory birds. Birds seen on the day included, turnstones, whimbrels, Grey Herons, green-backed herons, crab plovers and curlew sandpipers. Common land birds, their differences, adaptations, and threats were also covered.
The creative arts with a specific bias on birds were also on display. These consisted of drawings, pictures and mural done on iron sheets fencing. The fun part to highlight the outdoors interactive aspect was also not ignored. These came in the form of Bird Games notably Blind fold-feeding the bird and Match the herons head, Bird Migration game board and Feed the bird race game.
Other aspects to signify the importance of the day included discussions centering on urban wildlife, trees roles in the city as carbon absorbers, habitats for birds, insects and arthropods, shade and fresh air providers and picturesque features for leisure.
“All these were in line with the global events schedule whose sole agenda was to depict and capture the attention of the general public to the rising threat to migratory birds and global biodiversity.” Nature Seychelles head of social marketing, Terence Vel reveals.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the exact reasons for the global declines are complex and vary according to species and bird flyways. UNEP’s estimations and findings indicate that the overall decline in bird numbers may be signaling a wider environmental problem linked to the loss of habitats like forest grounds, grasslands, wetlands areas and general biodiversity worldwide. This is being further compounded by the effects of climate change and rising global temperatures which are said to lead to expanding deserts, more frequent storms and subsequent sea-level rise threatening tidal and wetland areas which are critical for many migratory birds.
The World Migratory Bird Day is symbolic in that it tells the world the interconnectedness of our different habitats and how they help these birds while on transit in their migrations to various destinations around the world. In case we interfere with our environment, the migrating birds which are quite sensitive will no doubt be affected and this may in turn harm the migratory patterns. In other words, birds do tell of a country’s state of the environment.