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Born to Travel

BirdLife campaigns to save migratory birds…

More than 40% of migrant bird passing between Africa, the Middle East and Europe, have declined in the last three decades. Of these 10% are classified by BirdLife as Globally Threatened or Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. “Every year, migratory birds brave mountains, oceans, deserts and storms on their journeys to survive”, said Dr Marco Lambertini - CEO of BirdLife International.

“Their epic flights connect us all - crossing our borders, cultures and lives. However, we are destroying the habitat they need to rest and re-fuel, building hazardous structures such as powerlines which cross their path, and illegally shooting and trapping them", added Dr Lambertini.

In response to these worrying declines, BirdLife has launched the Born to Travel Campaign to protect migratory birds along the African-Eurasian flyway. "There is no better moment then the first day of the northern spring to celebrate the arrival of migratory birds from Africa, and for BirdLife to announce our Born to Travel campaign to improve the conservation of these amazing trans-continental travellers", added Dr Lambertini.BirdLife Partner organisations operate in more than 70 countries along the African-Eurasian flyway, and are working together to raise awareness about migratory birds and implement joined-up conservation projects. “BirdLife Partners are working as an international network to protect migratory birds”, said Dr Lambertini. “International collaboration is the only way to conserve migratory birds!”

The causes of declines depend on the species and type of migrant. Waterbirds are threatened by conversion for agriculture and development, drought, over fishing and pollution. Soaring birds – which glide on thermals - are threatened by illegal hunting, collisions with man-made structures such as power-lines and wind-farms, and contamination of water supplies. Whilst songbirds are highly vulnerable to changes in the wider landscape such as agricultural intensification, desertification, deforestation and climate change.

“The Born to Travel campaign will help many migratory species that are often mistakenly considered widespread such as Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica, Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus and European Turtle-dove Streptopelia turtur”, said Ania Sharwood Smith - BirdLife’s European Coordinator for the Born to Travel Campaign.“BirdLife and its Partners have a successful history of protecting the amazing journeys of migratory birds”, said Dr Lambertini. “BirdLife has for many decades championed the protection of birds of prey from illegal and indiscriminate hunting in the Mediterranean. Many of these sites are now much safer places for migratory birds”.

BirdLife is also a key partner in the ‘Wings Over Wetlands’ project which is making an enormous difference to the conservation of migratory waterbirds, and has recently launched a new ‘Migratory Soaring Birds’ project to tackle wider threats to soaring birds in the Middle East and Africa. To aid songbirds, BirdLife is campaigning for reform and modernisation of the Common Agricultural Policy in Europe, whilst also working to tackle climate change and desertification.

“Bird migration is a true miracle which is cherished within many cultures”, concluded Ania Sharwood Smith. “Steep declines in migratory bird species urge us to act and save their amazing journeys. From Europe to Africa BirdLife will run linked projects, and organise campaigning activities. We will work both on the ground to reduce bottlenecks, and inspire people living along these birds’ routes to Europe to act for these fascinating creatures.”

This news is brought to you by Born to Travel - BirdLife's Flyways Campaign. To read more about the BirdLife Partnership’s global work to save migratory birds visit: http://www.birdlife.org/flyways/

4th July 2014