Major threats facing migratory birds include habitat destruction and fragmentation, light pollution, hunting for sport, erratic weather patterns, and trapping by power transmission lines.
Kenya should come up with robust measures to strengthen the protection of migratory birds amid growing threats linked to climatic stresses and urbanization, scientists said ahead of World Migratory Bird Day, which is marked on May 14 and aims to raise awareness of their critical ecological value.
Titus Imboma, a research scientist at National Museums of Kenya (NMK)'s Ornithology Department, said that conserving migratory birds will help stabilize ecosystems besides stimulating the growth of eco-tourism.
"As a country, we have an obligation to protect migratory birds that have become niche tourism products, generating revenue to local communities. These birds are also key to maintaining ecosystems' balance," Imboma said.
Kenya is a strategic passageway for migratory birds, escaping from winter in Europe and Asia and destined for warmer climate in the tropics. They arrive in the country from late September, land in different ecological zones ranging from savannah grasslands, coastal strip, the Rift Valley and mountainous landscapes before returning to their native countries in late April.
About 117 migratory bird species that land in Kenya spread across important bird areas like national parks, wetlands, coastal mangroves where they feed on micro-organisms and insects but do not breed. Nairobi is also an important feeding station for migratory birds adding that they are also attracted by its green spaces.
Shooting, trapping, poisoning.— BirdLife Africa (@BirdLifeAfrica) May 4, 2022
Every year, millions of migratory birds are poached while they make nature’s most incredible journey.
Check out the work our Partners do to put an end to this⬇️https://t.co/kgmD3RCcZb#FlightForSurvival pic.twitter.com/wu6V2iSivW
Kenya is a signatory to international legal instruments like the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) which aim to strengthen the protection of iconic migratory bird species. Major threats facing migratory birds include habitat destruction and fragmentation, light pollution, hunting for sport, erratic weather patterns, and trapping by power transmission lines.
Imboma said that it was crucial to reconfigure infrastructure development and urbanization, ensure corridors for migratory birds are not encroached while raising awareness on their economic and ecological value at the grassroots. He called for enlarging green spaces in cities, adoption of ecologically friendly farming practices like agro-forestry in order to shield migratory birds from the threat of pollution and climatic shocks.
Nature Kenya birding officer Richard Kipngeno recalled that some of the iconic migratory birds found in this African country include willow warbler, blackcap, Eurasian roller, steppe eagle, Eurasian bee-eater and common sandpiper. He added that Kenya is also playing host to migratory birds from the African continent.