Bird Migration and The Rise of Avitourism in Kenya

Kenya has made vast strides in the sphere of protection of wildlife.

In Summary

• The Kenya Wildlife Service has come under scathing attack from Kenyans on social media platforms with many a person insinuating failure from the body.

Birds migrating./COURTESY
Birds migrating./COURTESY

There was an almost palpable excitement amongst nature lovers and ornithophiles in Kenya early last week which was woefully short lived. On the 20th of January, 2020 a migratory bird, the Osprey also called the sea hawk, river hawk and fish hawk was spotted in Siaya County. The bird was first sighted by a local fisherman who reported the same to the Kenya Wildlife Service Team within the county. It is reported that the said bird had migrated from Finland thus having flown over 6,000 kilometres to land in Bondo, Siaya County.

On Sunday, 26th of January, 2020, social media was awash with devastating news that the said migratory bird had died. The same was confirmed in a statement issued by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), stating that the four year old Osprey died over the weekend at a KWS – licensed Raptor Rehabilitation Centre in Nairobi.As per KWS description of the health of the bird upon its delivery to the city, it can be inferred, that the prognosis was poor and thus chances of recovery not so good.It thus succumbed amidst treatment and under the care of KWS veterinarians.

The Kenya Wildlife Service has come under scathing attack from Kenyans on social media platforms with many a person insinuating failure from the body. The death of the bird triggered memories of KWS botched translocation operation of 11 critically endangered black rhinos in July, 2018. One Mr Ondoto, KWS Communication Director released a statement stating that a post mortem indicated the bird had died due to systematic organ failure caused by long-term starvation.

Migratory birds often travel thousands of kilometers, in the search of suitable feeding and breeding conditions.There are actual dates of when birds migrate depending on many factors, including but not limited to; the bird species, overall migration distance, travel speed, route, climate and weather patterns. The annual migration of birds from Europe to Africa at the onset of Winter usually kicks off from mid-November right through to end of January.Bird twitchers, watchers and enthusiasts just like the author of the article, experts and tourists look forward to studying, watching and enjoying scenic view of migratory birds from another continent.

Human Activities Impact On Bird Migration

Bird migration is not without its threats even as they transverse thousands of miles despite the growing environmental pressures more often arising from human undertakings. Human activities have accelerated the risks of the welfare and conservation of the birds; from pollution, illegal hunting and poachingand habitat loss.

Bird Migration and Essence of Conservation

The World Migratory Bird Day is celebrated in the months of May and October and pursues to raise awareness on migratory birds and the exigency to conserve them.On October 12, 2019 enthusiasts celebrated World Migratory Bird Day whose theme for year was “Protect Birds: Be the Solution to Plastic Pollution!” The event highlighted the impact of plastic pollution on migratory birds and their habitats.

The migrating birds face risk from ingesting plastic and also through entanglement by fishing nets.The Osprey migratory bird sighted in Siayahad been caught up in fishing net and it is so reported that it got bruises in the struggle to release itself.

Birds play vital role in nature conservation. Apart from playing a critical role in the balance of nature, birds are also cited as key players in the food web chain and within ecosystems. Birds eat insects and are a natural way to control pests in gardens and farms thus aiding in environmental conservation andboosting of food security.

Avitourism

Avitourism or avian tourism is travel and tourism that focuses on and highlights local birding opportunities. Bird watching is increasingly becoming more popular in Kenya although at a trailing pace in comparison to wildebeest migration and the big five tourism.

Citizen/Public Role in the Conservation of Migration Birds

Both Wildlife and Environmental Conservation is way of life. It is noteworthy that the Osprey migratory bird sighting in Siaya was first spotted by a local fisherman who then reported the same to the Kenya Wildlife Service team in Siaya. It is of essence that Kenyans spearhead matters that directly affect their socio-economic status. Conservation is a way of life.As depicted in this article, wildlife and environment conservation cannot be undermined and every Kenyan has a role to play in nature promotion and conservation.

As a country, Kenya has made vast strides in the sphere of protection of wildlife conservation in respect to promotion of awareness, and enacting stringent laws in support of the same.Every Kenyan has civic duty to report the killing or injury of any wildlife or illegal capture or transfer of any wildlife species or any other activity that damages our ecosystems and threatens conservation to the relevant authorities. Kenya Wildlife Service has an emergency line for such and works together with the Kenya Police. One can also report to the Chief or community leaders of any direct or potential threat to conservation. Lastly, one can further inform any conservation agency or organizations nearby. In the quest of nature conservation, our acts or omissions matter, we all need to be the solution and not the problem.

The author is an Advocate of the High Court, Principal Partner at Juliet Nyangai& Company Advocates and a nature lover. She is passionate about Animal Welfare and Animal Rights.

Ms J.O Nyangáican be reached on:Twitter: @nyangaijEmail:[email protected]