A proposed airport development in South Africa is threatening the winter roosting sites of three million Barn Swallows that journey there after spending breeding months in countries across Europe and other parts of the world.
The development is being proposed by the South African government, apparently to meet the demands of hosting World Cup 2010.
The site is to be designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA) based on the fact that numbers represent more than 1% of the global population of Barn Swallows.
This equates to more than 8% of the European breeding population.
The roost-site of the Barn Swallows, the Mount Moreland Reedbed, sits on what would be the flight-path for aircraft landing and taking off at the proposed airport extension.
Conservationists from BirdLife South Africa are concerned that safety concerns for visiting aircraft will lead to the clearance of the reedbed, removing the roosting site for the swallows.
The Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica undertakes one of the world’s most remarkable migrations, with many individuals travelling to breed in Europe and spending the European Winter in Southern Africa.
Numbers of Barn Swallows have declined across many European countries, largely as a result of pesticides and other pollutants, partly a result of intensive farming practises.