WWF-Pakistan hosted a number of events across the country to commemorate World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) 2016. The theme this year was titled “… and when the skies fall silent? Stop the illegal killing, taking and trade!” and highlighted the importance of international efforts to ensure sustainability of migratory birds by restricting their exploitation through international agreements, laws, treaties and collaborations.
WWF-Pakistan in collaboration with Virtual University organised a seminar to raise awareness on the illegal trade of migratory birds and their conservation.
Speakers at the seminar highlighted the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats. Different migratory patterns of various bird species were also discussed alongside the anthropogenic pressures these birds face during their seasonal movement.
Speaking on the occasion, Professor Dr. Muhammad Sharif Mughal emphasised the lack of awareness within the public about the importance of migratory birds for the various ecosystems of Pakistan and that such events are helpful in spreading awareness. He appreciated the WWF-Pakistan’s efforts for the conservation of biodiversity and natural resources of the country.
Later, a documentary on migratory waterfowls was screened. In another event, an awareness session was organised at Guddu Barrage in Sukkur in collaboration with Fauji Fertilizer Company. Participants of the event included representatives of the local community, Sindh Wildlife Department and Sindh Irrigation Department.
Imran Malik, Senior Conservation Officer WWF-Pakistan, gave an overview of the efforts taken by the organisation for the protection of migratory birds and also highlighted the illegal trappings and poaching of waterfowl within the wetlands of Sindh.
He informed that Pakistan lies at a crossroads for bird migration with its wetlands, attracting high numbers of migratory birds annually in the winter season. Birds arrive through the international migration route known as the Indus Flyway, from Siberia and over the Karakorum, Hindu Kush, and Suleiman Ranges along the Indus River down to the delta. This includes a wide variety of ducks and waders, houbara bustard, cranes, teals, pintail, mallard, geese, spoon bills, raptors, and passerines such as warblers, pipits and buntings. Some species including common and demoiselle cranes, snipe and pelican enter via the Kurram Agency of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province in Pakistan, he said.
Rab Nawaz, Senior Director Biodiversity of WWF-Pakistan in his message on WMBD said, “Due to its unique geographic location the Indus Flyway is one of the most diverse flyways in the world which witnesses an annual rush of 400 different kinds of migratory birds”.
He further mentioned a recent study of WWF-Pakistan which assessed the illegal trade of migratory species including the demoiselle cranes and various species of migratory ducks in the local markets of Pakistan. He also said that a lot is yet to be done.
Pakistan is also a party to the Convention on Migratory Species, the Bonn Convention which carries the mandate of protection and sustainable use of the avian as well as terrestrial and aquatic migratory species throughout their ranges. This treaty provides a platform for the multinational coordinated conservation of migratory species in their range as well as migratory routes and flyways, he added.
Migratory birds are a great illustration of global interconnections. Unfortunately, the numbers of migratory birds in Pakistan are on a decline and experts believe that loss of natural habitat, illegal hunting and indirect human influences, such as climate change are some of the causes for the waning numbers of these guest birds. These birds also have ecological benefits as they prey on insects and weeds, thus contributing towards the betterment of agriculture.
WMBD was initiated in 2006 and is a global awareness-raising campaign highlighting the need for the protection of migratory birds and their habitats.