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World migratory bird day: Bird migration helps balance the ecosystem —Goni

Ibrahim Goni, the Conservator-General, National Park Service (NPS) says bird migration helps to balance the ecosystem.

Goni said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Abuja on the backdrop of the World Migratory Bird Day.

World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) is an annual awareness-raising campaign highlighting the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats.

The theme of World Migratory Bird Day 2019 is ‘Protect Birds: Be the Solution to Plastic Pollution’.

The Day is celebrated on the second Saturday of May and October. In 2019, the Day will be celebrated on May 11 and October 10.

According to Goni, birds balance the ecosystem in different ways, for instance, birds eat insects which serve as a natural way of controlling pests in gardens, farms, and other places.

“Nectar-feeding birds are important pollinators, meaning they move the pollen from flower to flower to help fertilise the sex cells and create new plants.

“They also help disperse seeds: after eating fruit, they carry the seeds in their intestines and deposit them in new places”.

He said that birds, just like other animals have their economic, ecological and cultural values, hence the need to conserve them and the entire biodiversity.

“Birds are ecologically essential in Nigeria where the food web structure is relatively simple and they contribute to the functioning of the ecosystem because of their role in moving seeds and nutrients from one place to another.

“Birds like other animals through feeding relationships in an ecosystem help prevent any one species from becoming too numerous.

“Farmers use bird droppings as fertilisers which have high content of nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium, three nutrients essential for plant growth.”

“Bird feathers and downs are also used for stuffing pillows, mattresses, sleeping bags, coats, and quilting.

“Bird watching provides a valuable opportunity to develop small-scale ecotourism which, in addition to diversifying the local economy, fosters the conservation of species and their environment,” he said.

The C-G, however said that the population of many birds have been declining at an unprecedented rate due to habitat degradation, over-harvesting and poaching.

“Climate change is also adding to the existing threats and bringing new ones like increased frequency of extreme weather occurrences.

“At National Park, we have taken measures to protect bird species and indeed the entire biodiversity through the conservation of the nations’ protected areas,’’ he said.

He said that birds are increasingly at risk due to the negative consequences of human activity including environmental pollution, toxins, pesticides, physical changes to landscapes and habitats.

“Protecting and restoring the natural areas on which they depend for breeding and resting also brings numerous benefits to humans by improving the quality of the environment and providing ecosystem services.

“Therefore, we must all work together to protect our biodiversity and their habitat at all costs,’’ he added.

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