20 bird species under threat

In ancient Greekfolklore, birds were associated with the goddess of fertility. In Shona beliefs, birds foretell what is going to happen. Birds like Abdim Stork (Shuramurove) foretell an abundant rain season. Each year they fly several thousands of kilometers across continents to breed or find food.

Under threat: Abdim stork and the barn swallow.
Under threat: Abdim stork and the barn swallow.

But in recent years the habitats of migratory birds like Shuramurove have been disappearing due to human activities.

According to Dr Chipangura Chirara of Birdlife Zimbabwe, migratory birds are good indicators of human interaction with the environment. They connect the continents and oceans. Birds and people are connected in many different ways, he says.

Through their dependence on specific habitats during migration, birds are the first to feel the effects of changing environments. Thus they are key indicators of the health of the environment.

Zimbabwe has about 20 areas where migratory birds come to breed from September to May. Mountainous areas like Nyanga and Chimanimani are known to host the Blue Swallow, which comes all the way from Europe. Lake Chivero is another such habitat.

Several bird species are under threat, including the white stork, Cape vulture, martial eagle, Peregrine falcon and wattled crane.

Rueben Njolomole, environment and education officer at Birdlife Zimbabwe, says World Migratory Bird Day (May 12) was initiated in 2006 to raise awareness of the need to protect migratory birds and their habitats.

Post published in: Environment

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