African migratory birds threatened by hot, dry weather

Aug 19, 2022, 11:44 AM | Updated: 11:46 pm
FILE - Flamingoes feed in the popular Berg River estuary in Velddrif, South Africa, Monday Sept. 14...

FILE - Flamingoes feed in the popular Berg River estuary in Velddrif, South Africa, Monday Sept. 14, 2020. The alteration of weather patterns like the ongoing drought in east and central Africa chiefly driven by climate change is severely undermining natural water systems devastating livelihoods and now threatening the survival of most of the world’s famed migratory bird species. (AP Photo/Nardus Engelbrecht, File)

(AP Photo/Nardus Engelbrecht, File)

MOMBASA, Kenya (AP) — Africa’s migratory birds are threatened by changing weather patterns in the center and east of the continent that have depleted natural water systems and caused a devastating drought.

Hotter and drier conditions due to climate change make it difficult for traveling species who are losing their water sources and breeding grounds, with many now endangered or forced to alter their migration patterns entirely by settling in cooler northern areas.

Roughly 10% of Africa’s more than 2,000 bird species, including dozens of migratory birds, are threatened, with 28 species — such as the Madagascar fish eagle, the Taita falcon and hooded vultures — classed as “critically endangered.” Over one-third of them are especially vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather, an analysis by environmental group BirdLife International said.

“Birds are being affected by climate change just like any other species,” BirdLife policy coordinator Ken Mwathe said. “Migratory birds are affected more than other groups of birds because they must keep on moving,” which makes it more likely that a site they rely on during their journey has degraded in some way.

The African-Eurasian flyway, the flight corridor for birds that travel south through the Mediterranean Sea and Sahara Desert for the winter, harbors over 2,600 sites for migrating birds. An estimated 87% of African sites are at risk from climate change, a greater proportion than in Europe or Asia, a study by the United Nations environment agency and conservation group Wetlands International found.

Africa is more vulnerable to climate change because it is less able to adapt, said Evans Mukolwe, a retired meteorologist and science director at the World Meteorological Organization.

“Poverty, biodiversity degradation, extreme weather events, lack of capital and access to new technologies” make it more difficult for the continent to protect habitats for wild species, Mukolwe said.

Hotter temperatures due to human-caused climate change and less rainfall shrink key wetland areas and water sources, which birds rely on during migratory journeys.

“Lake Chad is an example,” Mwathe said. “Before birds cross the Sahara, they stop by Lake Chad, and then move to the Northern or Southern hemisphere. But Lake Chad has been shrinking over the years,” which compromises its ability to support birds, he said.

Parched birds means tougher journeys, which has an impact on their ability to breed, said Paul Matiku, executive director of Nature Kenya.

Flamingoes, for example, which normally breed in Lake Natron in Tanzania are unlikely to be able to “if the migration journey is too rough,” Matiku said.

He added that “not having water in those wetlands means breeding will not take place” since flamingoes need water to create mud nests that keep their eggs away from the intense heat of dry ground.

Non-migratory birds are also struggling with the changing climate. African fish eagles, found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, are now forced to travel further in search of food. The number of South African Cape Rockjumpers and Protea canaries is severely declining.

Bird species living in the hottest and driest areas, like in the Kalahari Desert that spans Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, are approaching their “physiological limits,” the most recent assessment by the U.N.’s expert climate panel said. It added that birds are less able to find food and are losing body mass, causing large-scale deaths for those living in extreme heat.

“Forest habitats get hotter with climate change and … dryland habitats get drier and savannah birds lack food because grass never seeds, flowers never fruit, and insects never emerge as they do when it rains,” Matiku said.

Other threats, such as the illegal wildlife trade, agriculture, the growth of urban areas and pollution are also stunting bird populations like African fish eagles and vultures, he said.

Better land management projects that help restore degraded wetlands and forests and protect areas from infrastructure, poaching or logging will help preserve the most vulnerable species, the U.N. environmental agency said.

Birds and other species would benefit from concerted efforts to improve water access and food security, especially as sea level rise and extreme weather events are set to continue, said Amos Makarau, the Africa regional director of the U.N. weather agency.

Scientists say that curbing emissions of planet-warming gasses, especially in high-emitting nations, could also limit future weather-related catastrophes.

___

Follow AP’s climate and environment coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/climate-and-environment

___

Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Turkish minister says deadly gun attack was ‘America-based’

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey’s interior minister on Saturday described a gun attack that killed a police officer in the country’s south as an “America-based” operation. Two suspected Kurdish militants opened fire on security force lodgings in the Mediterranean province of Mersin late Monday, killing one officer and wounding a second officer and a civilian. The […]
1 day ago
Bella Hadid wears a creation for the Vivienne Westwood ready-to-wear Spring/Summer 2023 fashion col...
Associated Press

Hermes unveils its Paris show, as Ukraine’s designers unite

PARIS (AP) — A giant, glowing crystal rock upon a sand-colored carpet evoked a glamorous alien planet for Hermes’ champagne-sipping VIP guests. Earthen hues like browns, reds and yellows — colors long-associated with the heritage brand — were used at Saturday’s show to create Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski’s utilitarian, low-key yet luxuriant universe for spring. Elsewhere, Ukraine’s […]
1 day ago
FILE - President Joe Biden greets people after speaking during a Democratic National Committee even...
Associated Press

Cha-ching! Biden embraces his election-year fundraising role

WASHINGTON (AP) — Whenever a donor’s unsilenced cellphone goes off at a fundraiser while President Joe Biden is talking, he has the same joke ready to go: It’s Donald Trump on the other line. “If that’s Trump calling me again, tell him I’m busy,” Biden said at an event this past week for the Democratic […]
1 day ago
In this aerial photo made in a flight provided by mediccorps.org, damage from Hurricane Ian is seen...
Associated Press

Ian shows the risks and costs of living on barrier islands

SANIBEL ISLAND, Fla. (AP) — When Hurricane Ian struck Florida’s Gulf Coast, it washed out the bottom level of David Muench’s home on the barrier island of Sanibel along with several cars, a Harley-Davidson and a boat. His parents’ house was among those destroyed by the storm that killed at least two people there, and […]
1 day ago
FILE - This handout photo taken from video and released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service o...
Associated Press

Russia accused of ‘kidnapping’ head of Ukraine nuclear plant

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces blindfolded and detained the head of Europe’s largest nuclear plant, Ukraine’s nuclear power provider said Saturday, reigniting long-simmering fears over the plant’s security. The alleged kidnapping on Friday apparently took place shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin escalated his war in Ukraine and pushed it into a new, dangerous […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Indonesian police say 4 dead, 1 missing in Papua attack

JAYAPURA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian security forces on Saturday recovered the bodies of four construction workers who were killed in a separatist attack in the restive province of West Papua, police said. The four men were killed late Thursday when gunmen stormed a government road construction project in remote Meyarga village in Bintuni Bay district, […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
African migratory birds threatened by hot, dry weather