Uganda monitoring health of migratory birds to curb avian flu

On eve of World Migratory Bird Day, authorities say they attend health of winged guests to address concern of farmers

Godfrey Olukya   | 08.10.2021
Uganda monitoring health of migratory birds to curb avian flu File Photo


Even as the farmers in Uganda’s Kalanagala district complain they have lost chickens after contracting avian flu from migratory birds in the past, authorities said they have begun monitoring the health of winged guests, who flock to the country during winters.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency on eve of the World Migratory Bird Day on Saturday, spokesman for Uganda Wildlife Authority, Bashir Hangi, said the migratory birds are a big draw for tourists, thus helping the economy of the country.

Every year migratory birds mostly from Europe and Asia migrate to Uganda to escape from harsh winter conditions. These species include black terns, swallows, raptors, passerines, flamingos, waders, storks among others.

Citing an example of 2017 when over 10,000 white-winged black terns died in the districts of Kalanagala Wakiso and Masaka, veterinarian Andrew Mugasha told Anadolu Agency that at times migratory birds transmit deadly diseases.

‘’Many farmers in Entebbe municipality and the Kalanagala district lost many of their chicken which got infected with avian flu brought by migratory birds,’’ said Mugasha.

But Hangi said the government was committed to protecting migratory birds.

“It is amazing to see Europeans coming here to see birds that migrate from Europe to our country. People come from far-off countries to watch them,” he said.

The Kazinga Channel in Uganda which links Lake Edward and Lake George, and is a dominant feature of Queen Elizabeth National Park, hosts a large number of winged guests. He said that his department ensures protection to migratory birds as long as they stay in the country.

’’Many tourists are interested in seeing the birds that can fly thousands of miles without collapsing. Among the activities they do to protect migratory birds include monitoring of bird health at river banks and lakeshores. They also take a strategic interest in unprotected areas through working with local governments to ensure that habitats are not degraded,” said Hangi.

As the migratory birds enter Uganda, they fly over Lake Victoria, the second biggest freshwater lake in the world.

Douglas Tamale, a conservation officer in Entebbe municipality near the shore of Lake Victoria, said that the birds come in big numbers and stay for some days in the wetlands and forests in Entebbe municipality before continuing their journey to western Uganda.

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