Arusha — TANZANIA's water bird species are in danger of extinction due to drying off of wetlands, a situation contributed by climatic change.
Speaking during the 13th Pan-African Ornithological Congress (PAOC 13), taking place here, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Ambassador Khamisi Kagasheki, said effects of climate change and increasing human activities in reserves and wetlands are to blame for the situation.
The country is said to have more than 1,500 bird species, but already 30 of them are at the verge of extinction, with water bird species topping the list. Some of the endangered aquatic birds include ducks, geese, swans, magpie geese, screamers. Others are storks, herons, egrets, ibises, spoonbills and pelicans.
The drying off of Lake Manyara which is one of the breeding sites for the pink flamingos is one of the examples cited. 'The speed at which wetlands are drying off is worrying us, so there is need to put in place remarkable measures to address the situation, as water birds depend on such eco-systems for their reproduction and survival," he said.
Ambassador Kagasheki promised that his ministry will work on the matter and rescue the important resource for the current and future generations. 'Drying off of wetlands is a threat to water bird species, which depend on it for their survival. So, among other issues, PAOC meeting will provide a good platform for experts in wild birds to extensively discuss and exchange views on how to conserve the sector."
He also noted that birdwatching, a popular hobby around the world, can present significant economic opportunities for countries through sustainable tourism. "Birding plays a significant and growing part in the tourism industry and creates direct and indirect economic benefits for many countries and communities, also amongst developing countries.