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Birds migrating from North Africa face increasing risks during hot, dry months

The birds are threatened by conditions changing in the center and east of the continent. Hotter and drier conditions due to climate change make it difficult for migrating species to find new sources

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Kenya’s MOMBASA (AP) — The east and center of the continent, where changing weather patterns have created a terrible drought and reduced natural water supplies, pose a threat to Africa’s migrating birds.

Around 10% of Africa’s more than 2,000 bird species, many of which are migratory, are threatened, with 28 species — including the hooded vulture, the Taita falcon, and the Madagascar fish eagle — being designated as “critically endangered.” According to a study by the environmental organization BirdLife International, more than one-third of them are particularly vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather.

“Just like other species, birds are impacted by climate change, “Ken Mwathe, coordinator of policy for BirdLife, stated. Because they must continually traveling, migratory birds are more likely to have a location they depend on during their journey degraded in some manner than other kinds of birds.

Over 2,600 bird migration sites are located along the African-Eurasian flyway, which is the route taken by birds migrating south through the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea during the winter. According to a research by the United Nations environment agency and conservation organization Wetlands International, an estimated 87% of African sites are at risk from climate change, a higher percentage than in Europe or Asia.

According to Evans Mukolwe, a former meteorologist who served as the World Meteorological Organization’s science director, Africa is more susceptible to climate change since it is less equipped to adapt.

“Poverty, loss of biodiversity, severe weather, lack of funding, and lack of access to new technologies “make it more challenging for the continent to save wild species’ habitats, according to Mukolwe.

Lake Chad is one such “said Mwathe. Birds stop at Lake Chad on their way to the Northern or Southern Hemisphere before crossing the Sahara. However, Lake Chad has been getting smaller over time “which impairs its capacity to harbor birds, he claimed.

According to Paul Matiku, executive director of Nature Kenya, parched birds have more difficult travels, which affects their capacity to reproduce.

If the migration voyage is too difficult, for instance, flamingos that typically breed in Lake Natron in Tanzania are unlikely to be able to “said Matiku.

He continued, “Without water in those wetlands, breeding will not occur.” “because to the fact that flamingos require water to make the mud nests that shield their eggs from the scorching heat of the dry earth.

The climatic changes are also having an impact on non-migratory birds. African fish eagles, which may be found all over sub-Saharan Africa, now have to go farther to get food. Protea canaries and Cape Rockjumpers are both drastically dwindling in number in South Africa.

According to the most current assessment of the U.N.’s expert climate panel, bird species that live in the hottest and driest regions, including the Kalahari Desert that encompasses Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa, are getting close to their “physiological limits.” The report went on to say that birds are dying in big numbers when living in excessive temperatures because they are less able to find food and are losing body mass.

According to Matiku, “dryland habitats get dryer and dryland habitats get drier with climate change, and savannah birds lack food because grass never seeds, flowers never bear fruit, and insects never emerge as they do when it rains.”

According to him, other dangers including the illegal wildlife trade, agriculture, the expansion of cities, and pollution are also hurting the numbers of birds like vultures and African fish eagles.

According to the U.N. environmental agency, better land management initiatives that aid in restoring degraded wetlands and forests and safeguard places from infrastructure, poaching, or logging would help maintain the most vulnerable species.

Amos Makarau, the Africa regional director of the U.N. meteorological agency, said that since sea level rise and extreme weather events are expected to persist, coordinated efforts to increase water access and food security will be beneficial to birds and other species.

According to scientists, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in high-emitting countries, could also prevent future weather-related disasters.

Visit https://apnews.com/hub/climate-and-environment to keep up with AP’s coverage of climate change and the environment.

Several private foundations fund the climate and environmental reporting for the Associated Press. Here is additional information on the AP’s climate program. All content is the exclusive responsibility of the AP.