First World Migratory Bird Day

10 April 2006 | News story

The African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) together with the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) will launch the first World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) from the edge of the Great Rift Valley in Laikipia, Kenya with “WINGS,” an artistic and cultural show reflecting the wonders of bird migration.

Hosted by the well-known author, nature conservationist and future CMS Ambassador Ms Kuki Gallmann, the special event will be attended by a wide variety of local and international guests, bird experts and the media.

The aim of the day, scheduled for 8 April 2006, is to raise awareness, educate and inspire people about the need to protect migratory birds and their habitats, many of which are threatened by human activities.

Birds and their migrations provide important ecological services, including seed dispersal, plant pollination and pest control. In addition to being important regulators of ecosystems many bird species are a source of food and livelihoods. The IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) is directly involved in the promotion of the conservation of wetland migratory birds through its network of waterbird Specialist Groups. SSC supports Specialist Groups on many bird species, notably Waders, Ducks, Geese and the Threatened Waterfowl Specialist Group.

Following WMBD, a number of experts will attend the “Scientific Seminar on Avian Influenza, the Environment and Migratory Birds” on 10/11 April at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. The seminar will give leading scientists, decision makers and other stakeholders a platform on which to review and discuss the latest scientific studies concerning the spread of Avian Influenza and its impact on wild birds and the wider environment.

It is no coincidence that WMBD comes at a time when migratory birds are receiving much of the blame for the spread of Avian Influenza. Mr. Bert Lenten, Executive Secretary of AEWA, says, "There is no evidence that avian influenza was passed to humans by wild birds, and it is obvious that only the mutation of the virus causing the spreading of the disease from human to human could provoke a real pandemic." The event’s organizers hope that activities around the world will raise awareness and support for migratory birds.

AEWA’s vision for WMBD is a day when stakeholders worldwide hold WMBD-specific events to tie into global efforts for the conservation of migratory birds. AEWA and CMS invite conservationists, government agencies, NGOs and others to organize events during the weekend of 8/9 April this year and to register and advertise these on the WMBD web site: http://www.worldmigratorybirdday.org/

Read more about IUCN SSC bird Specialist Groups.

For more information contact:

Andrew McMullin, IUCN Species Programme Communications Officer
Tel: +41 (0)22 999 0153
Email: mcmullina@iucn.org

Florian Keil, Information Officer
UNEP/AEWA Secretariat
fkeil@unep.de