South Africa Celebrates World Migratory Bird Day

Bonn, 23 October 2015 - South Africa held its first official celebration of World Migratory Bird Day on October 15, 2015. The event was led by the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs. Edna Molewa and took place at the Marievale Bird Sanctuary in Gauteng.

The sanctuary is located at the southern end of the Blesbokspruit Wetland of International Importance and hosts numerous species of waterbirds.

To raise awareness of the need to protect migratory birds and their habitats, World Migratory Bird Day was declared in 2006 under the Convention for the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA). South Africa became a Contracting Party to CMS on December 1, 1991 and to AEWA on April 1, 2002.

The timing of the international WMBD on the second weekend of May in northern hemisphere is linked to the return of migratory birds for the summer, which means they are leaving South Africa at this time. The South-African event was celebrated in October to welcome birds to their winter homes.

The theme of this year’s World Migratory Bird Day is “Energy – make it bird-friendly!” The focus is on minimizing and mitigating the impacts of renewable energy systems and technologies on migratory birds and their habitats.

The access to electricity is not only essential to industrial and business development, but also ensures access to services such as healthcare and education for millions of people. However, there is a need to manage the rollout of energy infrastructure to minimize its potential negative impact on wildlife and the environment.

Mrs. Molewa addressed the participants with this take-home message: “Let us strengthen existing efforts to ensure that this magnificent spectacle of thousands of migratory birds crossing our skies is not now or in the future relegated to history, to paintings and picture books.”

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Last updated on 26 October 2015