Bird day to be marked in Dubai
DUBAI // Bird lovers and wildlife experts plan to mark World Migratory Bird Day by helping to raise awareness about the need to protect the creatures.
The second weekend of May marks the sixth annual celebration of the global event, which is backed by the United Nations.
In Dubai, the municipality will commemorate the day on Monday with a series of lectures at Dubai Municipality Club.
They hope to raise awareness of how development can have a negative impact on the migratory bird population, under the slogan, "Land use changes from a bird's-eye view".
More than 1,850 bird species migrate every year and 31 of these are classified as critically endangered, according to advocacy group BirdLife International, which is a global alliance of conservation organisations.
The locations migratory birds visit are becoming fewer and fewer every year because of urbanisation, deforestation and intensive agriculture, among other issues.
"Land use is changing worldwide. There are also natural disasters like bush fires and drought to consider," said Mohammed Abdul Rahman Hassan, head of the marine environment and wildlife section at Dubai Municipality. "If there is habitat destruction, the birds have to find somewhere else."
Flamingos are the face of migratory birds in Dubai, according to Mr Hassan. "They are eye-catching birds and a main attraction at Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary," he said.
"There are approximately 1,000 Greater Flamingo that inhabit the sanctuary and a maximum of 2,700 flamingos were recorded during one winter season, which was the highest number."
Dr Reza Khan, a specialist in wildlife and zoo management, will give a lecture on flamingo breeding and developments at Dubai Zoo.
"Even though this is one of the smallest zoos, the flamingos started breeding from 2006 and that's a miracle because they are very sensitive and particular about their surroundings," he said.
In January, the municipality recorded some 25,000 migratory bird sightings from about 88 species at Ras Al Khor sSanctuary. The sanctuary was the first site in the UAE to sign the Ramsar treaty, an intergovernmental commitment to maintain sustainable use of wetlands.
Three birdwatching towers were erected at the sanctuary in 2005 and, since then, 35,000 people have visited.
Next year, the municipality hopes to open a visitor centre with audio-visual material, lecture rooms and miniature models of the various ecosystems at the sanctuary. A book will also be published in English and Arabic with a comprehensive list of the birds, plants and fish at the reserve.
"Migratory birds become part of the country in which they land," said Dr Khan. "That is why it is of great importance to protect them."
Updated: May 14, 2011 04:00 AM