Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative visits Pan-African Ornithological Congess

The Pan-African Ornithological Congress (PAOC) is the most important and largest experts’ conference on African birds. It focusses on advances in research and on promoting the conservation of African birds as an integral part of African heritage. Among the participants of the 14th PAOC, held on 16-21 October 2016 in Dakar, Senegal, was the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative (WSFI). The Initiative used the platform to present its book “African East Atlantic Flyway Guide”, which entails 270 African migratory birds and has been distributed to field workers, students and people involved in monitoring in all African countries along the Atlantic coast.

“The PAOC attracts about 250 experts from all over Africa and Europe”, says Gerold Lüerßen, WSFI coordinator and Deputy Executive Secretary of the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat (CWSS): “If you research, work with or make policies on birds in Africa, you are here. Therefore this event was the perfect arena to launch our guide.” The Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative focusses on monitoring migratory birds and building the capacity for their conservation. These species are a crucial element of the Outstanding Universal Value of the Wadden Sea World Heritage. At the round table of the Migratory Birds for People (MBP) organisation the Initiative participated in the discussion on expanding and intensifying the cooperation of information centres along all global flyways.

The WSFI supported the PAOC by bringing five migratory bird experts from Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Morocco and the United Kingdom to the event. It further organised a symposium entitled “Addressing the declining fortunes of migratory waterbirds of Africa’s East Atlantic Flyway”, discussing the importance of cooperation in migratory bird conservation, the role of Banc d’Arguin in Mauritania for Wadden Sea birds, the dynamics of black-tailed godwits in Senegal and bird protection measurements in Angola. At a reception hosted by the Dutch embassy, Ambassador Theo Peters also pointed out the importance of cooperation along the flyway and the particular commitment of the Netherlands in migratory waterbird conservation especially in West Africa.

Prior to the Congress the WSFI held a two-day workshop in preparation of the total count of migratory birds along the whole East Atlantic Flyway (EAF), which will be conducted in the beginning of 2017. “We welcomed participants from almost all African Atlantic coast countries, with whom we exchanged information on status, problems and requirements of the planned total count”, says Lüerßen: “The workshop showed us that the complete EAF census well on track.”

Directly following the PAOC, the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) organized a three-day data handling workshop to support national coordinators across Africa in organizing and formatting their data as well as transferring bird count data into the International Waterbird Count (IWC) database maintained by Wetlands International.

The next PAOC will be held in Ethiopia in 2020.

Photos: Gerold Lüerßen, Clémence Deschamps

AEWA Waterbird Data Management Workshop, 22 – 24 October 2016, Dakar, Senegal.