Africa’s migratory birds are threatened by changing weather patterns in the guts and east of the continent which have depleted natural water systems and caused a devastating drought.
Hotter and drier conditions because of climate change ensure it is problematic for traveling species that are losing their water sources and breeding grounds, with many now endangered or forced to improve their migration patterns entirely by settling in cooler northern areas.
Roughly 10% of Africa’s a lot more than 2,000 bird species, including a large number of migratory birds, are threatened, with 28 speciessuch because the Madagascar fish eagle, the Taita falcon and hooded vulturesclassed as “critically endangered.” Over one-third of these are especially susceptible to climate change and extreme weather, an analysis by environmental group BirdLife International said.
“Birds are increasingly being suffering from climate change exactly like any species,” BirdLife policy coordinator Ken Mwathe said. “Migratory birds are affected a lot more than other sets of birds since they must continue moving,” that makes it much more likely a site they depend on throughout their journey has degraded for some reason.
The African-Eurasian flyway, the flight corridor for birds that travel south through the MEDITERRANEAN AND BEYOND and Sahara Desert for the wintertime, harbors over 2,600 sites for migrating birds. Around 87% of African sites are in risk from climate change, a larger proportion than in Europe or Asia, a report by the US environment agency and conservation group Wetlands International found.
Africa is more susceptible to climate change since it is less in a position to adapt, said Evans Mukolwe, a retired meteorologist and science director at the planet Meteorological Organization.
“Poverty, biodiversity degradation, extreme weather events, insufficient capital and usage of new technologies” ensure it is more challenging for the continent to safeguard habitats for wild species, Mukolwe said.
Hotter temperatures because of human-caused climate change and less rainfall shrink key wetland areas and water sources, which birds depend on during migratory journeys.
“Lake Chad can be an example,” Mwathe said. “Before birds cross the Sahara, they drop by Lake Chad, and proceed to the Northern or Southern hemisphere. But Lake Chad has been shrinking through the years,” which compromises its capability to support birds, he said.
Parched birds means tougher journeys, which includes an impact on the capability to breed, said Paul Matiku, executive director of Nature Kenya.
Flamingoes, for instance, which normally breed in Lake Natron in Tanzania are unlikely in order to “if the migration journey is too rough,” Matiku said.
He added that “devoid of water in those wetlands means breeding won’t happen” since flamingoes require water to generate mud nests that keep their eggs from the intense heat of dry ground.
Non-migratory birds may also be fighting the changing climate. African fish eagles, found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, are actually forced to visit further searching for food. The amount of South African Cape Rockjumpers and Protea canaries is severely declining.
Bird species surviving in the latest and driest areas, like in the Kalahari Desert that spans Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, are approaching their “physiological limits,” the newest assessment by the U.N.’s expert climate panel said. It added that birds are less in a position to find food and so are losing body mass, causing large-scale deaths for all those surviving in extreme heat.
“Forest habitats get hotter with climate change and … dryland habitats get drier and savannah birds lack food because grass never seeds, flowers never fruit, and insects never emerge because they do when it rains,” Matiku said.
Other threats, like the illegal wildlife trade, agriculture, the growth of cities and pollution may also be stunting bird populations like African fish eagles and vultures, he said.
Better land management projects that help restore degraded wetlands and forests and protect areas from infrastructure, poaching or logging can help preserve probably the most vulnerable species, the U.N. environmental agency said.
Birds along with other species would reap the benefits of concerted efforts to really improve water access and food security, especially as sea level rise and extreme weather events are set to keep, said Amos Makarau, the Africa regional director of the U.N. weather agency.
Scientists say that curbing emissions of planet-warming gasses, especially in high-emitting nations, may possibly also limit future weather-related catastrophes.
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