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AJK observes World Migratory Birds Day-2023 marking due respect and protection of these ‘ flying guests

Altaf Hamid Rao

MIRPUR (AJK),  (Parliament Times) : World Migratory Day was observed the world over including Azad Jammu & Kashmir State on Saturday – May 13.

This year of 2023, the World Migratory Bird Day is officially scheduled to be held on May 13 and October 14. The two days of World Migratory Bird Day reflect the cyclical nature of bird migration as well as the fact that there are varying peak migration periods in the northern and southern hemispheres.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) website, the World Migratory Bird Day 2023 will focus with the theme of ‘Water and its importance for migratory birds’.

The World Migratory Bird Day 2023 Highlights Impact of the Growing Water CrisisWater and its importance to migratory birds – and the increasing threats to both water quality and quantity – is the focus of this year’s World Migratory Bird Day, a global campaign that aims to raise awareness of migratory birds and the need for international cooperation to conserve them. Activities to mark the campaign will be held globally on two peak days in May and October under the theme “Water: Sustaining Bird Life”.Water is fundamental to sustaining life on our planet. Migratory birds rely on water and its associated habitats—lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, swamps, marshes, and coastal wetlands—for breeding, resting, refueling during migration, and wintering. Yet increasing human demand for water, along with climate change, pollution, and other factors, are threatening these precious aquatic ecosystems.

According to research conducted by our Special AJK Correspondent Altaf Hamid Rao on Saturday, the headlines around the world are sounding alarm: 35 percent of the world’s wetlands, critical to migratory birds, have been lost in the last 50 years. Utah’s Great Salt Lake, the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere and used by more than a million shorebirds, is in danger of disappearing within five years. Across the Amur-Heilong Basin in Asia, climate change is amplifying the impact of habitat destruction by depleting natural water systems and depriving migratory birds of vital breeding and stopover site. These sobering examples go hand-in-hand with recent reports that reveal that 48 percent of bird species worldwide are undergoing population declines.

Another poignant example is that of the Aral Sea shared by Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Once the fourth-largest lake in the world, it is widely regarded as one of the planet’s worst water-related environmental disasters. Soviet-era irrigation projects almost completely dried up the lake, which led to the loss of livelihoods for fishermen and farmers and the deterioration of public health due to toxic dust and reduced access to clean water.

The impact has been severe for the communities around the lake, but also for migratory birds, which lost important food sources and a critically important stopover point on their journey.

Another example is the Sahel, a vast semi-arid region in Africa: Prolonged periods of drought, deforestation, and overgrazing in the Sahel have led to the degradation of the soil and loss of vegetation, threatening the survival of both the local human population and wildlife, including migratory birds. Lake Chad, one of the largest water bodies in Africa in 1960, lost 90 % of its area, depleting water resources for local communities and also for many migratory birds.

World Migratory Bird Day serves as an international call to action for the protection of migratory birds, whose ranges often span multiple countries, and are facing many different threats worldwide. The annual campaign is organized by the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), Environment for the Americas (EFTA), and the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP).

Events to raise awareness of migratory birds and the importance of water are scheduled to take place all over the world including in local parks, nature centers, museums, libraries, schools, and other locations on these peak days and throughout the year.

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