Round Table Discussions

Roundtable 1: Lessons and responses in safeguarding IBAs facing development pressure in Africa

Leader: Ken Mwathe

Africa’s Agenda 2063 envisages a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development. Key flagship projects in energy, infrastructure, agriculture will push this agenda coupled with a desire to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Africa’s development will come at a great cost to Important Bird Areas (IBAs). Already, 59 out of over 1300 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Africa are categorised as IBAs in Danger due high development pressure. This round table will consider approaches to safeguarding IBAs as well as new safeguard responses.

Roundtable 2: Community Involvement in Avitourism, Ornithological Research, and Bird Conservation

Leader: Mr Andrew de Blocq


The involvement of local communities in the preservation of natural assets is essential for conservation success. Community buy-in requires consultation, inclusion, representation, and local benefits. One way to benefit local communities is direct and indirect job creation through research, conservation, and avitourism. We would like to facilitate a discussion around where in Africa examples of effective community involvement exist relating to avitourism, ornithological research, and bird conservation projects. A short presentation on the work of BirdLife South Africa’s Empowering People Programme will give some context, whereafter we will invite contributions and points of discussion from the floor.

Roundtable 3. African Heron Research and Conservation: Global linkages, local impacts

Leader: Doug Harebottle

This symposium and workshop are open to all those who are doing studies on the biology and/or conservation of Ardeidae (“Herons”), or are implementing heron conservation activities. It will provide a forum for heron researchers and conservationists to get together, face to face, and exchange ideas, results and problems of their work. In holding this meeting in Africa, we particularly invite African researchers to present their work in a casual, open atmosphere among other international colleagues. We hope that participants will discuss issues novel to the African continent along with common global issues. African researchers can learn of fellow colleagues involved with heron research and conservation in various other corners of the world and vice versa to further build and intensify our global network of specialists. We encourage those who are working with herons of conservation concern to present new results from their activities at the symposium. We are also eager to hear of more traditional studies/observations on population monitoring, national species distributions, breeding biology, behaviour, taxonomy, movements and migration, etc. In keeping with the theme of this PAOC (Urbanising Africa and its effects on birds), the workshop will focus on management of heronries in urban settings and development of guidelines that can be used to aid in minimizing their negative impact. Case studies from other continents as well can be helpful to inform the discussion, as urbanization of heronries is a global phenomenon. For any questions, please contact Doug Harebottle or Chip Weseloh

Roundtable 4: Birding Apps and the use of technology in bird conservation

Leader: Dr John Caddick

There are many people in Africa who have an interest in birds but do not have the resources to buy a field guide. Many however will have a modern smartphone or similar device. An increasing number of Birding Apps are now available which cover many countries in Africa. For example Birds of Africa which covers Nigeria / Benin / Togo and Ghana in its first version, and Birds of Zambia have both been published recently. The purpose of the RTD is to discuss the potential value of such Apps for conservation purposes. The proposed format is that 3 or 4 App developers will each spend 5 minutes to describe their Apps followed by a discussion which would cover requirements from a conservation perspective including potential users, content, capabilities, technology and cost.

Roundtable 5: Deforestation crises across the Zambezian Region – conservation management priorities for woodland birds

Leader: Anthony Cizek

Much of the Zambezian Region of south-central Africa is naturally vegetated by woodland, which supports a rich and distinctive avifauna. While the region as a whole might be considered well-conserved, some parts are experiencing deforestation crises which pose threats to the avifauna. The woodland avifaunas are not distributed evenly across all parts of the region. There are a number of different kinds of Zambezian woodlands, and the avifauna of, for example, Miombo Woodland is distinct from that of Mopane Woodland. Also, Wetter Miombo supports richer avifaunas than Drier Miombo. Furthermore, the major river valleys are biogeographic barriers which naturally fragment the distributions of plateau woodlands, leading to specific and sub-specific differences in plateau avifaunas. All of the countries of the region – Angola, DRC, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe – are affected to some degree, and isolated populations of Zambezian woodland specialists have been extirpated. This round-table discussion aims to develop a network of people with a research interest in the Zambezian woodlands avifaunas, to find out what work is being done, and to list conservation management priorities for the Zambezian woodlands avifaunas. Which species, sub-species and populations are at risk, and where?

Roundtable 6: Integrating science, policy and development to address unsustainable land use linked to African-Eurasian migrant landbird declines

Leader: Samuel Temidayo Osinubi

Flyway-wide collaboration is key to effectively support conservation action for declining migrant landbirds across their range. This symposium brings together African science, policy and development experts in collaboration with European experts to review existing science, policy and practice, and explore innovative trans-disciplinary opportunities to deliver migrant landbird conservation across rapidly-changing landscapes.

Specifically, we aim to:

  • Improve our understanding of African-Eurasian migrant landbird declines in relation to the latest African research, build a clearer picture of the drivers and potential solutions by synthesizing knowledge from research being conducted throughout the flyway.
  • Improve the science-policy connection between African policy makers and conservation practitioners, and identify key research and policy questions
  • Enhance capacity for policy and practice-relevant research by strengthening collaboration and networking of scientists working on African-Eurasian migrant landbird declines, encouraging collaboration to fill policy and practice-relevant knowledge gaps
  • Bring scientists, policy makers and human development specialists together, creating a novel community to identify opportunities and innovative solutions to tackle African-Eurasian migrant declines while addressing human development needs.
Roundtable 7: Strengthening partnerships for conservation along the East Atlantic Flyway

Leader: Tim Dodman

The East Atlantic Flyway is a major migratory route connecting the Arctic with Southern Africa, vital for both Palearctic and intra-African migratory birds, especially waterbirds. Africa’s Atlantic coastline supports a vital network of wetlands where birds congregate during their non-breeding season, whilst some support significant colonial breeding colonies. In addition, the whole coastal belt is of cumulative importance for a wide range of non-congregatory species.

Effective conservation of migratory birds requires countries and partners to work together and share data, experiences and joint actions. Some flyway initiatives are underway, including the BirdLife East Atlantic Flyway Initiative and the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative, whilst Migratory Birds for People links wetland centres along the flyway. A new major eight-year regional project is anticipated to start in 2023 focused on strengthening climate resilience along the African part of the flyway, especially in relation to migratory birds. The planned programme will embrace a flyway approach, with direct action at several sites. This RTD will present the flyway, partner initiatives and the new project, and will seek engagement and input from all countries of the flyway, including examples of climate impacts to sites and birds and potential solutions.

Roundtable 8: Main health affectations on birds of prey

Leader: Dr Brahim Haddane

The life of many Birds and birds of prey particularly suffer many troubles linked to their health and capacity of flying for migration or for eating.Some are traumatics other are caused by pathogen agents ( viral,bacterial,parasites or fungu or Toxic).The RTD will offer an opportunity to many experts to tackle the topic about the bird of prey and the threats they are facing during long periple arround migration accross the ways they are following and recommend some actions to leaders of crossing countries to take at national level to reduce or to avoid the heavy lost of birds recorded each year

Roundtable 9: Meet the Editors – the publishing process demystified

Leader: Alan Lee

The use of citizen science to generate large datasets over a range of taxon and spatial scales has been growing in momentum over the last few decades. The African Bird Atlas Project includes the second Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP2), Nigeria and Kenya Bird Map projects implementing the ‘BirdMap’ monitoring protocol. The protocol encourages standardized spatial and temporal coverage using a variety of incentive mechanisms resulting in a vetted dataset of bird distribution records. The African Bird Atlas Project is based on SABAP2, initiated in 2007 and building on the successful SABAP1 project run from 1986-1997. A 2021 survey of the use of the data returned 717 articles, including webpages, books, publications and environmental impact assessment reports. At least 150 peer reviewed articles have made use of the data, which is freely available via the project website or GBIF. However, use of the data should require careful analysis of spatial and temporal patterns of contribution before inference is made. The contribution to the global scientific world of biological research is significant, and together with the value to environmental impact assessment practitioners, conservationists, protected area managers and citizen scientists highlights the incredible value of this project.

Roundtable 10: Going, going, gone: Tackling the Illegal killing of birds for belief-based use

Leaders: Salisha Chandra, BirdLife International and Darcy Ogada, The Peregrine Fund

The trade of avian body parts for belief-based use has been identified as one of the most significant anthropogenic causes of avian mortality and population decline (Alves et al. 2013, Boakye et al. 2019). Belief-based use includes the use of whole birds, either alive or dead, or their body parts for traditional or spiritual purposes. These include traditional medicine, both preventative and therapeutic, and for spiritual healing including of folk illnesses, for spiritual protection, clairvoyance, or to bring success or misfortune to others (Boakye et al. 2019). While this practice is widely known from West Africa, it is prevalent throughout every region of the continent (Williams et al. 2014). Belief-based use is one of a number of wild animal uses that collectively make up the wildlife trade and evidence from Africa suggests that it is interlinked with the trade in bushmeat and live-birds, and they are likely interdependent (Buij et al. 2016, R. Martin pers. comm.). Given the severity of trade for belief-based use, and particularly among species groups that already occur at low densities such as raptors and hornbills, it is likely to be a significant contributor to declines within these groups in Africa (Buij et al. 2016, Williams et al. 2014).

This Round Table aims to 1) discuss ways to markedly increase both local and international awareness about the seriousness of this threat to Africa’s birds, and 2) share experiences about the best ways to tackle it.  Our overarching goal is to bring a collective focus on this growing and significant threat affecting many taxa that we hope fosters much needed collaborative conservation action.

Alves RRN, Leite RC, Souto WMS, Bezerra DMM, Loures-Ribeiro A. 2013. Ethno-ornithology and conservation of wild birds in the semi-arid Caatinga of northeastern Brazil. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 9: 14.

Boakye, M.K., Wiafe, E.D. and Ziekah, M.Y., 2019. Ethnomedicinal use of vultures by traditional medicinal practitioners in Ghana. Ostrich90(2), pp.111-118.

Buij, R., Nikolaus, G., Whytock, R., Ingram, D.J. and Ogada, D., 2016. Trade of threatened vultures and other raptors for fetish and bushmeat in West and Central Africa. Oryx50(4), pp.606-616.

Williams VL, Cunningham AB, Kemp AC, Bruyns RK (2014) Risks to Birds Traded for African Traditional Medicine: A Quantitative Assessment. PLoS

ONE 9(8): e105397. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105397.

Roundtable 11: Innovation in vulture conservation: a socio-environmental perspective

Leaders: William Bowerman and Linda van den Heever

The “African Vulture Crisis” describes the long decline in populations of most Old World vulture species in Africa that have recently been reclassified as Critically Endangered or Endangered using IUCN criteria.  Multiple human-caused stressors have been linked to vulture mortality including: poisoning, directly and in association with elephant poaching; indirectly and in association with secondary impacts from poisons used for human-wildlife conflict; harvesting for trade in vulture parts for traditional medicine and beliefs; alteration of habitat through changes in land use; lead poisoning from big game hunting; drowning in farm dams; and, collisions with electrical power infrastructure, amongst other threats.  The U.S. National Science Foundation funded National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) was developed to produce actionable conservation outcomes working through teams of social and environmental scientists tackling real world problems.  For five years, over 20 scientists and policy makers have been working together on this problem.  We report here on novel approaches including the use of the One Health framework; conservation ethics; conservation criminology; human-vulture relationships; the role of vultures in disease; and, community conservation.

Roundtable 12: Secretarybirds – Long term Conservation Action Plan

The uplisting of Secretarybirds, Sagittarius serpentarius, to Endangered on the IUCN Red List highlighted the need for immediate action to stop the regional decline of this iconic African raptor. While the species ranges across most of sub-Saharan Africa, barring the tropical forests of central Africa, it has already become virtually extinct in West Africa and is restricted to protected areas in East Africa. This situation motivated BirdLife South Africa to organise a conservation planning workshop, including a Population & Habitat Viability Assessment (PHVA),  facilitated by the IUCN SSC Conservation Planning Specialist Group. The outputs from this workshop are to be discussed during this roundtable for the planning of a long-term strategy for Secretarybird conservation, and to inform the drafting of a Conservation Action Plan for the species across all African range states. We therefore encourage participants from range states in Africa to join this round table so that we can initiate continental-scale collaborations towards saving this species.

Roundtable 13: Building A Continent-Wide Collaboration to Save Vultures

Leaders: Salisha Chandra

Over the last 50 years, populations of African vultures have declined by 80-97% (over 92% for five species). Stopping and reversing these declines is one of the biggest challenges in conservation in Africa. This is a hugely complex issue because the threats to vultures vary from sub-region to sub-region and are part of the bigger picture of the continuing challenge of poaching, unsustainable resource use, cultural attitudes and beliefs, and the absence of safeguards for biodiversity in many development plans.

Given the cross-cutting and diverse threats vultures face and the varied skillsets and resources required to address them, collaborative and inclusive approaches are essential to making a difference. In tackling the crisis in South Asia, a collective response network ‘Saving Asian Vultures from Extinction’ (SAVE) demonstrates what organizations can achieve when they come together with a united vision.

This Round Table aims to discuss the opportunities and challenges of developing a similar consortium in Africa. Our overall goal is to foster collaborative and coordinated conservation action to halt and hopefully reverse declines of this majestic group of birds.

Roundtable 14: TBA
Roundtable 15: TBA
Roundtable 16: Bird ringing in Africa (Afring)
Leader: Dr H Dieter Oschadleus

Ringing activities have been conducted in Africa for over 70 years, and ringing is an important tool in survey work and continuing studies on the biology, survival and movement of birds. Invited speakers will present overviews on the SAFRING and East African ringing schemes, as well as a brief history of ringing in Africa. There will be opportunities for RTD participants to provide updates on recent or current ringing projects and activities from their regions and/or the species groups they are working on. The primary aim of this RTD is networking with anyone involved in ringing, or interested in ringing, in Africa. Discussions will be held on standardizing training, biometrics, and data curation. There will be feedback and discussion on accessing resources related to ringing (ringing training guides, bird identification guides, ringing publications, etc). Finally, future ringing activities and networking opportunities will be discussed.

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