African migratory birds are threatened with extinction due to changing weather conditions in the central and eastern parts of the continent which have depleted natural water systems and caused devastating drought.
Hotter and drier conditions, due to climate change, are making life difficult for migrating species who are losing their water sources and breeding grounds, and many are threatened or forced to change their life patterns entirely. migration when they settle. in cooler northern regions.
The threat is real
About 10% of Africa’s more than 2,000 bird species, including dozens of migratory birds, are threatened, with 28 species – such as the Madagascan Osprey, Taita Hawk and Hooded Vultures – listed as Endangered. of disappearance. “Critical danger”.
More than a third of them are particularly vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather events, according to an analysis by the environmental group. Bird Life International.
“Birds are affected by climate change like all other species.”
said Ken Mwathe, policy coordinator at BirdLife International.
The Afro-Eurasian Route, the flight corridor for birds traveling south through the Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara Desert in winter, is home to more than 2,600 sites for migratory birds.
It is estimated that 87% of African sites are threatened by climate change, a higher proportion than in Europe or Asia, according to a study by the United Nations environment agency and the conservation group Wetlands International.
“The African continent is more vulnerable to climate change because it is less able to adapt.”
“Poverty, biodiversity degradation, extreme weather events, lack of capital and access to new technologies make it more difficult to protect wildlife habitats.”
said Evans Mukolwe, retired meteorologist and scientific director of the World Meteorological Organization.
Warmer temperatures due to human-caused climate change and less rainfall are reducing key wetlands and water sources that birds rely on during migratory journeys.
“Lake Chad is an example of this.”
“Before the birds cross the Sahara, they stop at Lake Chad and then migrate to the northern or southern hemisphere.”
“But Lake Chad has shrunk over the years.”
“By shrinking, it compromises its ability to support birds.”
“Thirsty birds mean more difficult travel, which affects their ability to reproduce.”
“Flamingos that normally breed in Lake Natron in Tanzania are unlikely to be able to do so if the migratory journey is too difficult.”
“Not having water in these swamps means breeding will not take place.”
“Flamingos need water to create mud nests that keep their eggs safe from the intense heat of dry ground.”
Said Paul Matiku, executive director of Nature Kenya.
The risk is for everyone
Non-migratory birds are also struggling with climate change. African ospreys, found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, are now forced to travel farther in search of food. The numbers of Cape Rockhoppers and Bifascial Canaries are also down sharply.
Bird species that live in the hottest and driest areas, such as the Kalahari Desert that spans South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, are approaching their “physiological limits”, according to the last evaluation of the group of experts. in the climate of the UN.
Birds are less able to find food and lose body mass, causing widespread deaths for those living in extreme heat.
Forest habitats are warming with climate change and dryland habitats are becoming even drier. Savannah birds have no food because grass does not grow, flowers never bear fruit, and insects never emerge, as they do when it rains.
Other threats, such as the illegal wildlife trade, agriculture, growing urban areas and pollution, are also harming bird populations, such as those of ospreys and African vultures.
Birds and other species benefit from joint efforts to improve water access and food security, especially as rising sea levels and extreme weather events are expected to continue.
Better land management projects that help restore degraded wetlands and forests and protect areas from infrastructure, poaching or logging will help preserve the most vulnerable species, the United Nations environmental agency said. United Nations.
Scientists also say that reducing emissions of gases that warm the planet, especially in high-emitting countries, can also limit future climate-related disasters.
What do you think of this climate crisis? Can you imagine Africa without birds? We want to know your opinion, do not hesitate to comment and if you liked the article, share and give a “like / like”.
Author Associated press
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