World Migratory Bird Day: an overview of celebrations in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis

Every year around the world, a break is taken to celebrate the World Migratory Bird Day. This celebration takes place twice in a year, i.e. on the second Saturday of May and October. First established in 2006 as part of the Convention on the conservation of migratory species of wild animals, this World Day can be seen as an awareness-raising campaign focusing on the need to preserve migratory birds and their habitats.

Although the COVID-19-related global health crisis has disrupted initial plans, conservation stakeholders were nevertheless keen on leaving an imprint on this year’s edition, the selected theme of which was Birds connect the world. The objective of this year’s edition was to show the role of birds as representing shared resources and shared responsibilities in terms of environmental protection. Hence the interest in protecting them along with their habitats.

A look back at the highlights of the World Migratory Birds Day in Senegal, Mauritania and Guinea-Bissau.

«Further involve decision-makers to show them the importance of protecting birds and wetlands»

The natural reserve of the Greater Niaye of Pikine and its dependencies (wetlands of the science park) in Senegal provided a venue for the second edition of the World Migratory Birds Day that was organised on Saturday 10 October 2020. The event was intended as a forum of reflection, sharing, proposals and stimulation for a range of stakeholders (such as government officials, local governments, traditional leaders, technical agencies, NGOs, CSOs, researchers, students and citizens…). Several presentations were made followed by discussions. Addressing the audience during the opening ceremony on behalf of the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, the Director of National Parks, Colonel Boucar N’Diaye, first recalled the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) and then expressed his appreciation to technical and financial partners for their key role in protecting birds.

Also in attendance, the representative of the PRCM, Ibrahima Gueye, underscored the need to further involve decision-makers, with a sense of urgency, in order to show them the importance of protecting birds and wetlands.

«Consolidating awareness-raising gains at school level»

In Mauritania, the Day was marked by awareness-raising activities organised over two days. In this regard, “Nature Mauritanie”, an NGO, gathered about thirty students from the Noura and Science & Savoir schools for a presentation on the flyway and its significance. Following the presentation, discussions were held on the issue of bird migration. This was a highly educational exercise that allowed students to grasp the value of migratory birds. The Day also featured other activities such as film screenings and a contest that rewarded the best ten drawings of each school. All of these helped to enhance the progress made so far in terms of awareness-raising at school level in a context made difficult by the COVID-19 pandemic for which stringent measures were put in place to take care of everyone.

«Building the capacities of security forces personnel»

In Guinea-Bissau, the celebrations were organised in three localities, i.e. Bissau, Mansôa and Jeta in collaboration with such partners as GPS, IBAP, Palmeirinha, the Embassy of the Netherlands in Dakar, Birdlife International and the PRCM.

In Bissau in particular, a capacity building course was arranged and provided on 9, 10 and 13 October in the IBAP Hall to officers of the National Guard, the coastal squad and the environmental protection squad. The three sessions that included an exchange of knowledge on migratory birds and the wetlands they fly over were facilitated around the theme “Birds connect people across the world”. There were 150 participants from security forces.

In Mansôa and Jeta, the Day was celebrated in the presence of students and their teachers. The objective was to create awareness among them on the importance of protecting and preserving migratory birds and the habitats they cross in Guinea-Bissau. Also touched upon was the issue of engaging them in order to help reduce the pressure of human beings on birds and their habitats, and arouse their interest in migratory birds and the importance of this process for scientific research and the country at large.