Tag Archives: Birds

Celebration of the World Migratory Bird Day 2011

This year 2011, ACNR in collaboration with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the Rwanda Birding Association (RBA) organized a joint event. With RDB on board this was the first celebration of WMBD on a national level in Rwanda.


The Programme

The celebration of World Migratory Bird Day 2011 in Rwanda had 3 components.
1) A preliminary round table discussion was broadcasted live on Rwanda TV onwmbd_2 Thursday 12th May 2012, featuring
– Mrs Rica Rwigamba, Head of theTourism and ConservationDepartment at RDB to present the standpoint of the government on bird conservation and tourism,
– Mr Serge Nsengimana, ACNR Executive Director to call for conservation of Birds and their habitats in general and migratory birds in particular and
– Mr Davidson Mugisha, President of RBA to talk on behalf of eco-tourism operators in Rwanda.
2) A press release on World Migratory Bird Day 2011 and the events in Rwanda was sent out to prominent media in Rwanda to advertise the celebration. The press release was coordinated by ACNR and RDB.
3) Sunday 15th May 2011 was the day for a big bird watching event, aiming at catching people’s interest in birds and their protection needs while at the same time introducing the newly developed Bugesera Birding Circuit. It brought together more than 100 participants including RDB, ACNR and RBA staff, bird guides, Nature Club students, community members, media, tour operators, some diplomats like the US Ambassador, government officials and general public.

The event was held in Bugesera District, south of Kigali. Participants were assembled in three Birding Groups for different birding sites; one to two guides were available for each group. After birding, participants met at Gashora La Palisse Hotel, for refreshments and short boat rides on Lake Rumira. Speeches were held by the following individuals:
– Davidson Mugisha as MC, as an introduction and information on avi-tourism in Rwanda.
– The Mayor of Bugesera District to welcome the event.
– Bird watching group representatives to talk about their impressions from bird watching.
– An ACNR representative to recite a poem on the World Migratory Bird Day.
– Rica Rwigamba to thank all participants for coming and invite for lunch.

ACNR initiated the creation of a paper bird sculpture. For this purpose every participant received a paper bird to write on it his personal impressions, ideas and wishes concerning WMBD. Afterwards all paper birds were collected and will be hung up in the RDB entrance hall in a shape of big bird, where more than thousand people pass every day, to give the event an even bigger range.
RDB provided logistics for all participants, including transport and refreshments while ACNR provided all necessary information on birds, posters, fact sheets, buttons for all participants etc. Guides and birding materials were shared by all organizing parties.

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Conclusion
World Migratory Bird Day 2011 in Rwanda can be called a success. The collaboration of three able institutions substantially increased the range and diversity of the event, despite the time pressure of preparation at the last minute and ACNR’s financial constraints. Feedback from the participants and also the organizing parties was throughout positive, showing that the event had left a mark in people’s minds and will leave them thinking about birds and the threats they face.

Don’t Forget this Treasure-Albertine Rift

The old wise men from my ancestral community say “however faster you run, you can never be faster than your mother; the stones that support her cooking pot will always call you back” The Albertine rift now remains a source of sweet, important essentials for both humans and nature. These goods are in the form of the ecosystem services that are supplied from the abundance and variety of the Albertine rift resources.

           

Stepe Buzzard                                                                                                                 Red Backed Shrike

As you may realize, the “Albertine Rift Birds” have been silent for some time. Just like all birds, they had migrated briefly but in unusual way! I too followed them. Where “we were and what we did will come in the subsequent blogs! But for now, I just wish to tell you we are back!

Masumi and Victor have escorted me to Rwanda via Uganda. The journey had a number of exciting things but did not miss challenges. We went through Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Institute of Tropical Forestry Research Centre at Ruhija where we spent the last night in Uganda. If you have not been here, please purpose to before the end of the “forest” (or is it world). It is a wonderful place in many ways. As we came down from Ruhija research station, we clearly show the tips of Muvura, Murabura, Karisimbi and Sabinyo mountains. From the local people, Sabinyo means an old man’s teeth. It is the most beautiful mountain with a number of crater lakes at the top. There is no better way to understand why this beautiful country is called the “pearl of Africa”.

                    
Victor, Masumi and Enoch, Albertine rift support team                Habib, our Cab Driver

Habib, our taxi driver managed to drive us safely down the mountain to Kabale and to the Uganda-Rwanda Border. In the country of a thousand hills, we spent a week meeting various conservation organizations who are prospective partners with WildlifeDirect. The ACNR team was already out at Lake Rweru on a waterbird monitoring excercise.

AFRICA: Climate Change will affect us Too!

Is Africa Prepared to deal with impacts of Climate Change?

No will be the correct answer to this question. Africa in general is overwhelmed with other problems. HIV AIDS, poverty reduction and political instability and general governance issues seem to take centre stage in Africa. To a large extent, it has been forgotten that all these have a direct relationship to the environment and impacts of climate change may make the situation worse. Sustainable economic development can not be achieved without realizing and incorporating the ecological component in all the strategies employed to deal with the problems developing economies and the world in general face.

However, hope exist! Concerned stake holders have realized the need to be actively involved in designing strategies to deal with the likely impacts of climate change. Using scientific modelling, they have modelled the likely climate change over the next 100 years. The situation is seriously worrying and a lot of effort is required to deal with it.Many species are projected to suffer a reduction in range size and a small proportion may go extinct completely.

Regal Sunbird, an Albertine Rift endemic and a species predicted to move altitudinally due to climate change

One of the most important things now is concerted efforts in scientific research, involving african conservationists/researchers and then followed by policy makers and implementers. Such (pioneering) research to help biodiversity survive the impacts of climate change across Africa was announced at a workshop in held in Kigali, Rwanda between 9th and 11th July 2008 and hosted by the Association pour la Conservation de la Nature au Rwanda (BirdLife in Rwanda) on behalf of the BirdLife Africa Partnership. The workshop brought together the BirdLife Africa Partnership, RSPB, Durham University (UK), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and was funded by the MacArthur Foundation.

The project mapped the current and future distributions of all bird species on mainland Africa by using climate change models to determine the distance and direction of shifts for each species in the future.

A particular emphasis of the work was understanding how well the Important Bird Areas (IBAs) network in Africa can sustain the continent’s bird with future climate change. Dr Julius Arinaitwe, BirdLife International’s Regional IBA Manager for Africa, said “There are very few plans to protect biodiversity from the effects of climate change anywhere in the world. BirdLife International is leading the drive to develop strategies to protect our unique wildlife for future generations.”

“BirdLife International is leading the drive to develop strategies to protect our unique wildlife for future generations” -Dr Julius Arinaitwe, BirdLife’s Regional IBA Manager for Africa

More detailed analysis is being carried out within the Albertine Rift region of Africa to identify actions that will increase the resilience of the IBA network to future climate change.

The workshop in Rwanda brings together governments, academic institutions, NGOs and local community from Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, all of which are included within the Albertine Rift mountains complex.

Dr Steve Willis, a lecturer at Durham University’s Environmental Change Research Group, and a leading expert on climate change modelling commented: “In the Albertine Rift, our models project that species will move upwards altitudinally, and clearly the higher up a mountain you go, the less land area there is. We need to start acting now to prevent these unique species disappearing altogether.”

The main challenge is to try to protect the birds where they are now and at the same time to help them to follow a shifting climate. We need to start planning their conservation in areas where they currently do not even occur. The problems are huge but we cannot simply sit back and watch our natural heritage disappear,

Important Bird Areas are essential for the livelihoods of many people in Africa, and are the backbone of the tourism industry, a major source of revenue for African economies. Most of these areas are also key reservoirs for water and pollinators and so their protection is an important component of adaptation to climate change in other fields such as agriculture, demography, energy, and urbanisation.

3-D representation – looking north “up” the Albertine Rift – of the modelled distribution of Regal Sunbird Nectarinia regia for a) the present; b) 2025, and; c) 2085. The red indicates areas with suitable environmental condition for the species. The grey scale background is a digital elevation, with light grey representing higher altitudes.

Working with communities to conserve IBAs

Albertine Rift/Rwanda

Bite…Muraho? Bite (read ‘bee teh’) is the general greeting in this wonderful, small East African country. This means the country has only one local language (Kinyarwanda) and I belief this makes it the largest language group in Africa, if not in the world. This is totally different from PNG where there are more than a thousand languages dividing a population of about 6 million people into as many ethnic groups.

ACNR with support from BirdLife international and regional partners has been working on the establishment and gazetting of Important Bird Areas (IBAs). The IBAs are areas with unique characteristics and support the existence of bird species. The criteria for qualifying an area as an IBA has been developed by BirdLife international.

One of such site support groups is the Inyange site support group. This group, living along the wetlands of Nyabarongo, is the most effective. The Nyabarongo wetlands have been identified as one of the most special IBAs in the great lakes region. The wetland runs through the country of Rwanda from the west, through the central Kigali city province to the southern region where it joins the Akagera marshland before extending to Tanzania. The Nyabarongo wetland which drains the wetland joins the Akagera River before draining into Lake Victoria. These two rivers form the greatest proportion of the water entering Lake Victoria (46%) during the wet seasons. By extension, the wetland is believed to be a major source of the River Nile.

ACNR is working with communities to establish community based organisations to manage the environment for sustainable livelihoods. Such organisations include SSGs and school based nature clubs. Mugesera (Bugesera) and St. Marie (Karongi) are examples.

They employ a strategy of empowering these groups to establish sustainable livelihoods based on enterprises using local natural resources.

They work with the CBOs to create awareness aimed at strengthening environmental education programmes and inform the communities on the value and wise use of natural resources, incorporating indigenous knowledge and local value systems.

They lobby the appropriate service providers including marketing and research institutions to work with the CBOs to make their enterprises sustainable.

Inyange SSG has been very active. Recently they have demonstrated that resources in the wetlands can be protected for improved livelihoods. ACNR has identified a number of areas in which the IBA site support group needs help to be fully funtional and well resourced. Let’s read about their general activities in the next issues….

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Introducing ACNR Rwanda

Here comes Enoch Ontiri, Introducing conservation work in Rwanda.

The Kisii highlands are beautiful to look and very nice to visit and even stay. The whole of Kenya where I grew up is just fantastic. But all these did not stop me from going to Papua New Guinea where to work in nature conservation. I volunteered with VSO, attached to a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) project. I had to extend my stay there for another one year for many reasons. The transfly wetlands in Papua New Guinea are great habitat with rich biodiversity. The culture of the people there is very interesting too. Conservation work is just but trying to protect the largely intact natural habitats. I am sure I will go back many years in future and see much of the nature intact and most people’s live much improved, courtesy of WWF’s work and ongoing commitment to support communities to conserve their resources.

Now, let me take you to Rwanda, a country of a thousand hills….

In the rural areas of Rwanda, people are struggling to get their daily bread from their immediate surrounding! In a country that is recovering from the worst calamities, the 1994 genocide and the after mats, people are faced with serious challenges of poverty but most important, lack of appropriate information.

Rwanda is a small country in East Africa measuring 26,338 square kilometers with a human population of about 10 million. 47 % of the land is used for agricultural purposes, 18% pasture and 22% is forest. Within this classification of forests fall the national parks and nature parks of Nyungwe, Akagera and Volcanoes. The national parks are home to Antelopes, Zebras, Buffalos, Giraffes, Golden monkeys, Chimpanzees, mountain Gorillas, Golden cats, giant forest hog, duiker, and sitatunga among others. There are about 670 recorded species of birds also. The country has some of the major wetlands forming part of the source of the river Nile.

The country, popularly known as “country of a thousand hills” is faced with very complex environment and natural resource conservation challenges. The greatest component of the challenges is the high ever increasing human population. The population growth rate is the highest in the region and there are also a big number of returnees who the government has to provide for. There have been a number of attempts to convert the forest land into farming/human settlements in the recent years. The hilly landscapes are fast loosing the top soil layer through erosion. This is aggravated by overstocking and poor cultivation methods. It is so bad because many people here don’t realize that Environmental challenges both underpin and define all aspects of human development, from economic development to health to food security.

Tomorrow, I will tell you about Association Pour conservation du la Nature au Rwanda, the organisation that I work with.