Birds play vital role in ecosystem

-World Migratory Birds’ Day

By Hina Kiyani

ISLAMABAD: World Migratory Bird Day, falling on October 10 is the perfect time to raise public awareness about the importance of the beauty of the birds in the world and their ecosystem services for the humanity.
The day will be celebrated with arrangement of different online activities highlighting this years’ theme “Birds Connect Our World†which was chosen to highlight the importance of conserving and restoring the ecological connectivity and integrity of ecosystems that support the natural cycles that are essential for the survival and well-being of the migratory birds.
The advent of winter season poses a threat to the hundreds of the migratory birds travelling to Pakistan from different countries to avoid extreme weather conditions in their native areas and fall prey to the illegal hunting by the people who kill these birds for enjoyment or trade purposes.
The migratory birds start their journey from different countries with the advent of winter season in Pakistan especially during October or November and begin returning to their native areas by the end of March or start of April, Zoology expert and Ex-Director General Pakistan Museum for Natural History (PMNH), Dr. Muhammad Rafique said.
In connection with World Migratory Bird Day, he said migratory birds not only add colors and beauty to the wetlands of the country but also provide ecological benefits as they prey on insects and weeds and thus contribute towards the betterment of agriculture.
He emphasized on promoting awareness among the citizens about conservation of migratory birds through preventing them from illegal hunting, mitigating agricultural and industrial pollution and protection of their natural habitats.
Dr. Rafique said there were seven identified flyways in the world which include passages from Northern Europe to Scandinavian countries, Central Europe to Mediterranean Sea, Western Siberia to Red Sea, Green Route from Siberia to Pakistan, Ganga Flyway from Eastern Siberia to India, Manchuria to Korea and Chakotaka to California.
Pakistan’s wetlands were no exception to hosting enormous biodiversity of migratory birds and some indigenous fauna. Each year, he said, hundreds of thousands of birds of diverse species including water fowls, cranes, teals, pintail, mallard, gadwall, geese, ducks, swans and waders migrate to the different routes. He said although the wildlife department had taken a number of measures to curtail hunting of migratory birds, however, still there is a lot to done by the relevant conservation departments.
Recalling the moment when he himself saw the trapping and hunting of migratory birds, Dr. Rafique said, “It was a painful moment when hundreds of birds after traveling through hundreds of miles flew down for some rest and suddenly trapped by the hunters and killed at the moment and there was no one to protect these†.
These birds even could not get time for a single minute rest. As they just flew down together with a big noise and got captured by the trappers and could not get a single moment to take a next breath, he said,
Dr. Rafique said it is our responsibility as a host to provide a comfortable and peaceful environment to these migratory birds which can be possible through managing wetlands.
He said human activities around the birds’ dwelling such as deforestation, water pollution, hunting and many others cause disturbance and irritation to birds. He urged the concerned department of wildlife conservation to take strict action against the illegal hunting of migratory birds and take steps for providing comfortable living environ for these birds.