Sifelani Tsiko Agric, Environment & Innovations Editor
Zimbabwe will next week host the 15th edition of the Pan African Ornithological Congress (PAOC) which aims to advance bird conservation in Africa.
The event, hosted by Birdlife Zimbabwe, brings together bird enthusiasts to discuss wide ranging issues on conservation, safeguarding and managing the most critical sites for birds and biodiversity.
This event will take place at the country’s premier resort spot – Victoria Falls from November 21-25.
PAOC, held every four years, will bring together hundreds of ornithologists and bird enthusiasts from across the world to advance research, highlight importance, and promote conservation of African birds.
Julia Pierini, chief executive officer of the BirdLife Zimbabwe said:
“As BirdLife Zimbabwe, we feel honoured and proud to be hosting the 15th Pan African Ornithological Congress in Victoria Falls. We will be welcoming over 300 delegates from 60 countries around the world (including over 33 countries from the African continent) to the venue of PAOC15 which lies within the spectacular Batoka Gorge World Heritage Site, a Ramsar site and also a Key Biodiversity Area.
“We look forward to an intense week of presentations, meetings, round table discussions and networking for the ultimate benefit of people and Nature in Africa.”
Dr Kariuki Ndang’ang’a, the regional director for Africa, BirdLife International said:
“Birds are excellent indicators of the health of the natural world as they are sensitive to various changes and are easily and widely studied.
“PAOC15 could not have come at a better time, when the climate change crisis, degradation of natural habitats, pollution, and infrastructure development among other factors threatens the survival of these birds.”
He said the BirdLife Partnership in Africa has been at the forefront of bird conservation on the continent with leading conservation scientists on the continent helping to identify bird species at risk of extinction, threats facing them, important sites for these birds, and conservation actions needed.
“PAOC15 provides a chance to highlight the Partnership’s work and strengthen our collaborations across the continent, and indeed globally,” he said.
The BirdLife International’s State of the World Birds Report 2022 which was released recently indicates that nearly half of all birds’ species are in decline, with more than one in eight birds at risk of extinction.
Across Africa, birds continue being faced with a myriad of threats including overexploitation for food and cage trade, habitat loss, infrastructure developments particularly energy developments that kill birds through electrocutions and collisions among others.
Over the last five decades, PAOC has made noteworthy contributions including research and developing capacity of budding African ornithologists, which has led to increased bird conservation action around the continent. The congress will also provide a platform for ornithologists and biologists from all over the world to present research and conservation results.
Birdwatching tourism has significant economic benefits that can translate into increased conservation of key areas as well as benefits to local communities.
BLZ is currently involved in capacitation of young community bird guides, in the development of the Great KAZA Birding Route and in the development of a hiking/birding trail in the Chimanimani Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA).
The BirdLife Partnership in Africa has been working to reverse bird species declines on the continent, including addressing vulture declines across the continent and promoting bird-safe energy among other interventions.
PAOC15 will be held at a crucial time, when countries are preparing for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting slated for December 2022 in Canada, where a new Global Biodiversity Framework will be finalised and adopted to halt biodiversity loss.