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News > Kenya

Protecting Migratory Birds is Crucial for Ecosystems Balance

  • African sacred ibises in Tana River Delta, Kenya.

    African sacred ibises in Tana River Delta, Kenya. | Photo: Twitter/ @jjopperman

Published 8 May 2023

Biodiversity protection makes it possible to maintain rural livelihoods and promote the resilience of ecosystems.

On Monday, Peter Njoroge, the head of the Ornithology Section and senior research scientist at the National Museums of Kenya, stressed that protecting natural habitats for migratory birds will unleash a range of ecological, health and economic benefits.


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Kenya is a major corridor for migratory bird species escaping from winter in Europe and Asia and heading to the warmer tropical regions where they forage for food in important biodiversity areas such as wetlands, forests and wildlife sanctuaries.

This African country hosts about 200 migratory bird species native to Europe, Asia and other parts of Africa from September to April, adding that their presence is a boon to tourism.

Migratory birds are part of Kenya's cultural heritage and are crucial in pest control, helping clean up urban waste, and limiting the spread of disease-causing pathogens.

Migratory birds inhabiting Kenya's diverse ecological zones like savannah grasslands, coastal mangroves, the Rift Valley and mountainous landscapes include Eurasian water birds, flamingos, eagles, cranes and storks, said Njoroge.

This scientists noted that despite their enormous contribution to ecosystems' health, migratory birds continue to face multiple threats including climate change, habitat destruction and loss, pollution and poaching. 

Rapid urbanization, energy infrastructure, and poisoning by herders and farmers threaten the survival of migratory birds in Kenya, to the detriment of eco-tourism.

"Transmission lines are a major threat to migratory birds amid regular electrocution. Some communities are also poisoning them for food or during retaliatory attacks," Njoroge said, stressing that the population of migratory birds in the country has been on the decline amid climate change.

He cited an action plan at the draft stage geared toward enhanced protection of flamingos and cranes, stressing that the government has also developed regulations that spell out penalties for poaching or poisoning of these migratory bird species.

World Migratory Bird Day seeks to highlight the critical ecosystem services while rallying the international community to act on threats facing these iconic species.

The theme of 2023 World Migratory Bird Day is "Water: Sustaining Bird Life," reaffirming the importance of conserving freshwater bodies that host bird species that travel long distances.

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