Experts Discuss Mortality of Migratory Birds, Suggest Solutions

By: Aisha Braima

KHARTOUM (Sudanow.info.sd) - Zoologists are ringing the alarm bells over the growing mortality among migratory birds.
The zoologists, in particular, draw attention to a number of natural phenomena like global warming, ice melting, global and local climate change as issues to be taken into consideration when probing the growing mortality among migratory birds.
Bird migration is the regular seasonal movement, often North and South along a flyway, between breeding and wintering grounds. Many species of birds migrate. Migration occurs mainly in the Northern Hemisphere where birds are funneled on to specific routes such as the Mediterranean and Caribbean seas. Migration is driven primarily by the availability of food.
Sudan ranks the third among African countries used as flyways by migratory birds in their annual North and South journeys. The country is home to 938 species of migratory birds, coming after Kenya with 1067 species and the Democratic Republic of Congo with 1086 species.
Dr. al-Sawi Musa of the Faculty of Science, University of Khartoum, has cited a number of hazards which face migratory birds crossing Sudan, that include: overgrazing, intensive farming and the growing urbanization represented in the building of bridges and roads .
In a paper entitled “Migratory Birds in Sudan, Present and Past’’ introduced before a celebration organized by the Sudan's Natural History Museum on the occasion of World Migratory Bird Day last month, Dr. Musa also cited chemicals used in oil extraction and what he called negative human behaviour as other causes of migratory bird mortality.
“Migratory birds, forced by bad weather and scarce food in Europe and Asia, fly for thousands of kilometers into our region in search of better breeding and feeding environments and then when the weather improves, they fly back North" said Dr. Musa.



Jebel al-Daier Wildlife Reserve
Jebel al-Daier Wildlife Reserve

Secretary bird
Secretary bird

The Island of Um Shijaira ( in the vicinity of Jebel Awalya Dam on the Southern outskirts of Khartoum), Tuti Island at the Confluence of the Blue and White Niles in Khartoum), the Dinder Wildlife Reserve (some 500 Km South of Khartoum), the Nuba lake (towards the border with Egypt), Um Jar Island ( on the White Nile, some 300 Km South of Khartoum), the Sanganaib Island on the Red Sea and the Dinginab Reserve in Eastern Sudan are known resting locations for birds crossing Sudan in their seasonal journeys.
Prof. Ibrahim Mohammad Hashim, Chairman of the Sudanese Wildlife Society, has warned that during their annual journeys, migratory birds face a lot of hazards.
Speaking at the same occasion, Prof. Hashim has cited human activity and the pollution it causes as the worst of threats to migratory birds. “Land exploitation for agriculture and grazing, power generation, hunting, garbage and human activity due to tourism are the major threats to the well-being of migratory birds,’’ he warned.
“The electric high-voltage lines and windmills kill the birds either by electric shocks or simply because they hit them and fall dead,’’ he said.
Prof. Hashim has also cited poaching and poisonous chemical waste among the hazards that face migratory birds. He, however, belittled the role of natural disasters in bird mortality.
The Sudanese Wildlife Society has undertaken, in collaboration with the World Birds Association, a study project on flying migratory birds that cross Sudan on their way from and back to Europe and Asia during winter and that stay for six months in the country. The project has brought together 13 countries from the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. These species include eagles, hawks, swans , storks and cranes. The project is aimed at preserving these species.
Prof. Hashim said facilities had been procured to prevent the migratory birds from hitting high-voltage electric lines and for preventing bird mortality in the states of the Jezira and Kassala.

Ciconia nigra (locally known as Simbir)
Ciconia nigra (locally known as Simbir)

He said efforts had been exerted in cooperation with the electricity sector ( with help from international organizations) to cover electric lines with insulators to prevent or reduce migratory bird mortality due to electric shocks.
Prof’. Hashim has put the total of migratory birds that cross Africa (including Sudan) at 1500 species. He said many of these birds cross Sudan through the Gezira, Kassala, South Kordufan and Darfur states, most of them predatory and, by that characteristic, help clean the environment from insects.
He lamented the fact that 5000 birds of abulrakha endangered species had used to perish annually along the Arba’at-Port Sudan high-voltage electric line - according to a study conducted in 2005- but when the line was changed with coated wires in 2012 no mortality was reported.

Mohammad al-Makki, a wildlife specialist and lecturer at Sinnar University said in a paper that no less than 175 million birds had perished when they hit electric lines in Kassala , the Jezira and Gedarif states.
The Sudanese Wildlife Society had reached an understanding agreement with the Agriculture Ministry, whereby the latter does its best to reduce bird fatality as a result of the use of pesticides.
The Society continues to engage the power sector on the best ways for sustainable electric supply and the protection of flying migratory birds.




Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...


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