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Migratory birds…

…bridge water, culture and religion

The wonder of bird migration recently united two communities separated by water, culture and religion. At an event coorganised by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL; BirdLife in Lebanon), the people of Anjar and Kfar Zabad villages jointly celebrated the cultural importance of bird migration as part of BirdLife’s World Bird Festival. The event was held at the Bekaa wetlands and marked the announcement of Hima Anjar, which will strengthen the existing Hima Kfar Zabad. Hima is a traditional Islamic system under which communities manage natural areas and protect them from over-exploitation.

“It is important to overcome political, and religious differences and meet on the protection of nature and biodiversity”, announced Ramzi Saidi - SPNL’s President.

“This event is a success story to prove that nature and birds are able to combine people together”, added Dalia Al-jawhary, the SPNL site manager for Hima Kfar Zabad. The event formed part of BirdLife’s World Bird Festival. This year’s theme 'Migratory Birds and their Flyways' explores the wonder of migratory birds, the threats they face, and their international identity which makes joined-up conservation an essential challenge.

People attending the Bekaa wetlands event enjoyed activities such as guided walks and bike tours of the community-protected Hima marshes. Visitors also had the opportunity to watch dances, songs and poems being performed by students from the Anjar schools, or browse in a small souk (market) for local handcrafts and foods.

The Bekaa wetlands are part of the Syrian-African Great Rift Valley. The area includes the Kfar Zabad - Anjar Important Bird Area, which supports several globally and regionally threatened bird species, such as Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus, Vulnerable Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca, Vulnerable Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni, and Vulnerable Syrian Serin Serinus syriacus.

The successful event was witnessed by the Mayors of both Anjar and Kfar Zabad villages who expressed their delight with the Hima collaboration. “We are happy that birds and nature were able to bring us together”, said Sami Abou Rjayli from the Hima Kfar Zabad Site Support Group.

The festival which was organised by Anjar and Kfar Zabad local communities in collaboration with SPNL. The announcement of Hima Anjar was a result of a USAID funded project entitled: “Creating Dialogue and Cooperation between Anjar and Kfar Zabad on shared environmental concerns”

4th July 2014