May 10th is marked as World Migratory Bird Day. This year 2017 theme is “Their Future Our Future” and it highlights the need for international cooperation to conserve migratory birds and their habitats for the benefit of mankind.

Migratory birds face an increasing number of threats while travelling huge distances. Their intercontinental flyways include key stopover sites that are essential for migratory birds to rest and refuel before continuing their journey.

Millions of birds migrate every year along global flyways between continents, for example from breeding grounds in Europe to warmer feeding grounds in sub-Saharan Africa. Some of the birds are facing the steepest declines ever experienced. Habitat loss, caused by land-reclamation and changes in global agricultural practices as well as poaching are threatening migratory birds across the world.

Bradnee Chambers, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Migratory Species said: “The planet is changing rapidly with shrinking bird habitats along all the global flyways. We need to take care of the ecosystems, which support all life on Earth. If we commit ourselves to sustainable development and preserve the habitats that we share with migratory birds, both wildlife and people will benefit, because their future is our future.”

Charles Kivasu of Kenya Wetlands Forum opines that “Conserving their habitats such as wetlands, swamps in Kenya which are mostly used by this birds will help protect our future as the same habitats provide products and services to us.”

Sound land use policies are required to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals and landbirds are excellent indicators of land use change. Protecting landbirds and their habitats will help conserve other species of flora and fauna without hampering economic growth.

Health is another objective of human development. Vultures, invaluable species that act as sanitary police are declining at an alarming rate. Poisoning as well as trade for traditional medicine account for 90 per cent of vulture deaths in Africa. Today 75 per cent of Old World vultures are heading towards extinction.