Swallows’ autumn migration to Africa

This video is about barn swallow fledglings in a farmyard.

From BirdLife:

Dear Africa, they’re in your hands now

By Shaun Hurrell, 8 Sep 2016

Dear friends in Africa,

We’ve done our best. Now they’re all in your hands.

We’ve put up nest boxes and watched them grow. We’ve helped feed them. We’ve planted flowers. At school, we’ve learnt their colours, we’ve drawn them, and cheered as they’ve flown past.

They are so fast! They make a ‘swoosh!’ noise over our heads as they catch an insect. I couldn’t wait for my turn to try and watch them with my binoculars.

But now they have left. I was sad at first, but then the Spring Alive lady told me that they are just ‘on loan’ from Africa and need to move somewhere warmer for the winter. So now the chicks we watched grow will have to fly all that way.

If they arrive safely, they will be very tired. So make sure there is lots for them to eat (they’re your friends who eat the insects that eat farm crops or bite you!) So please tell everyone not to harm them, and keep green areas for them to live.

I hope to visit you one day and see them roost near you in a big tree. They say in Durban they roost in their millions! But they only will if we keep looking after them.

So now, it’s up to you.

Please look after our migratory birds.

Let me know what you see and do! Send me some pictures or drawings.

Thank you,


Children all over Europe and Central Asia are now having these kinds of thoughts as they wave goodbye to Barn Swallows, which are beginning to gather before theuir annual migrations south. This also marks another successful season of Spring Alive, a BirdLife educational project that encourages children and adults to take care of the migratory birds they learn about.

“At this time of year, we ask the people of Africa to celebrate and care for their amazing migratory birds; and the people of Europe and Asia will return the favour next spring,” says Karolina Kalinowska, Spring Alive Coordinator.

Barn Swallows from Europe spend the winter in Africa south of the Sahara, in Arabia and in the Indian sub-continent. Their wide range also makes them great ambassadors that link many countries in their migrations, with initiatives such as Spring Twins which pairs schools in Africa and Eurasia.

As well as the Swallow theme this year, every season by posting their first sightings of Barn Swallow, White Stork, Common Cuckoo, Common Swift, and European Bee-eater on the www.springalive.net website, children from Europe, Central Asia and Africa create a real-time map of the incredible journeys these birds take every year.

This year’s theme is Swallows of My Neighbourhood. One of the most familiar birds in the world is declining, but instead of being negative let’s celebrate the swallows of our neighbourhood, because they give a great start for young people to care about conservation.

All along their migratory routes, children and adults will be excitedly preparing for the arrival of swallows and other birds with Spring Alive, which launches its 2016 African season in September.

Read more here.

Find out how to participate in Swallows of My Neighbourhood with Spring Alive.

Vulture Awareness Day today

This video says about itself:

Saving Nature’s Clean Up Crew – BirdLife’s Campaign to conserve African Vultures

13 October 2015

Most vultures are teetering on the brink of extinction across Africa. Considering the vital role they play in preventing the spread of life-threatening diseases, we must do everything we can to save these unsung heroes.

From BirdLife:

Which vulture species are you?

By Shaun Hurrell, 2 Sep 2016

Do you find yourself doing loads of work to help people without ever getting any credit? Maybe you have more in common with a vulture than you think. Vultures are greatly misunderstood birds. They may have a pretty bad reputation, but they are the ultimate unsung heroes, cleaning our environment and stopping the spread of disease! Sounds like you? Find out what endangered African vulture you are with our special quiz for Vulture Awareness Day!

Click here to take our Which Vulture Species Are You? quiz.

Raising awareness of the importance of vultures to our ecosystems is just one of the items on the menu at this year’s IUCN World Conservation Congress, which is currently underway in Hawai’i.

On Vulture Awareness Day, 3rd September, BirdLife is holding a special event at the Congress to highlight the plight these unlikely heroes face. Various vulture species are teetering on the edge of extinction across Africa, due mainly to threats from intentional and unintentional poisoning, persecution for their body parts (also involving the use of poison), as well as electrocution and collision with poorly-planned powerlines, windfarms and roads, habitat reduction, disturbance and food availability.

For more information, see our African Vulture infographics.

Show the anti-heroes some love by taking the quiz and sharing it with your friends, family and your nearest African governmental minister..!

Vultures are amazing birds, but they are often misunderstood. Learning just how unique these birds are can help you better appreciate their place in the world’s avifauna and how important their ongoing conservation is. How many of these vulture facts do you know? Here.

African golden-backed weaver in Dutch garden

This is a 2016 golden-backed weaver video from Singapore in Asia.

Nico de Haan is a well-known Dutch birdwatcher. He reports that on 12 June 2016, he saw an unusual bird in the holly bushes in his garden: a golden-backed weaver. This is an east African species. Never before seen in the Netherlands. It has been seen in Singapore, as videos prove.

Did this bird fly all the way from Africa to the Netherlands? Or did it escape from a cage? It did not have a ring.

Mr De Haan’s photos are here.

West African lions are different, new research

This video says about itself:

West African lion – Video Learning – WizScience.com

24 September 2015

The “West African lion” , also known as the “Senegal lion”, is a lion subspecies native to western Africa. Results of genetic research indicate that the Western and Central African lions form a different clade of lions and are perhaps more related to Asian lions than to lions from southern or eastern Africa. The genetic distinctiveness is particular of interest, since lions are regionally endangered in western Africa. With a total population of perhaps less than 1,000 individuals in all of West and Central Africa and no captive population, the West African lion is one of the most endangered subspecies of big cats.

Lions from western and central Africa are believed to be smaller than lions from southern Africa. It is also suggested that they have smaller manes, live in smaller groups, and they may also differ in the shape of their skull.

In the Pendjari National Park area, which is within the range of the West African lion, almost all males are maneless or have very weak manes.

The West African lion is distributed in western Africa south of the Sahara from Senegal in the west to the Central African Republic in the east. Another subspecies or North East Congo lion is traditionally described from northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Lions are rare in western Africa and may be critically endangered in this region. In 2004 there were probably only 450-1,300 lions left in West Africa. In addition, there were about 550-1,550 in Central Africa. In both regions, the area inhabited by lions has been reduced until 2004 to less than 15% of the historic range.

From Leiden University in the Netherlands:

Lions in West and Central Africa apparently unique

10 August 2016

Lions in West and Central Africa form a unique group, only distantly related to lions in East and Southern Africa. Biologists at Leiden University confirm this in an article published in Scientific Reports.

Genetic data

In this study, the researchers gathered a genetic dataset of lion populations covering a total of 22 countries. This included samples from each remaining lion population in West and Central Africa, a region where lions and other wildlife are rapidly declining as a consequence of the increasing human population. The researchers managed to gather all the information by teaming up with other people in the field and local conservationists.

300,000 years ago

Based on the genetic data, it was estimated that the split between the two major groups that can be identified in the lion must have occurred 300,000 years ago. To explain what happened in their evolution, the researchers made a reconstruction of African climatological history. It seems that periodic expansions of the rain forest and the desert drove lions into isolated pockets of suitable habitat, where the different genetic lineages originated that can still be observed today.

Other mammals

This influenced not only the patterns we observe in the lion, but also in other large mammals such as giraffe, buffalo, hartebeest, cheetah and spotted hyena. A general pattern is emerging that shows that many large African savannah mammals show very similar arrangements, with unique lineages in West and Central Africa.

Reason for concern

The strong declines in wildlife populations in large parts of West and Central Africa are therefore a reason for major concern. The fact that this region seems to harbour a lot of unique genetic lineages makes conservation in the area extremely important. A delegation from Leiden University will participate in the IUCN World Conservation Congress in September 2016, and will lead a Side Event that aims to establish a Species Action Plan for West and Central Africa. The researchers hope that this will facilitate coordination and funding of projects in the region.

European Union helping dictators to stop African refugees

This video from Canada says about itself:

Protest – Ethiopian Student Massacre

9 May 2014

The Oromo community in British Columbia is deeply saddened by the massacre of our school kids under the Ethiopian regime. Unfortunately the [then, Stephen Harper‘s Conservative] Canadian government provides significant economic support to this murderous regime in Ethiopia.

Translated from Dutch daily NRC:

‘European Union aid to dictators to stop migration

Africa: European Union would offer inter alia Sudan, of the accused dictator Bashir, equipment and training to stop migrants

Koert Lindijer

June 9, 2016

Europe is considering doing business with African dictators to stop the flow of migrants, even while it tries to have those leaders on trial for human rights violations. …

Germany’s Der Spiegel and the British New Statesman recently received documents of a secret EU action plan. It is said to have been discussed on 23 March by EU member states. The plan proposed to provide Sudan with cameras, computers and other anti-migrant recording devices. Also border police would be trained at 17 border crossings. Finally, there would be plans to set up along the eastern border of Sudan, in the towns of Kassala and Gedaref, camps for migrants. According to human rights organizations, the equipment which the EU would provide to Sudan might also be used for internal repression.

In three years eight African countries, including Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda and Djibouti, would get 40 million euros from the EU to stop migrants. Ethiopia, extremely repressive like Sudan, would receive equipment and training to improve border controls and the ability to track smugglers ….

On Tuesday, the European Commission presented a more comprehensive investment plan for North Africa to stop migration. This plan does not include Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti and Uganda. …

Now the indicted Sudanese leader is said to be lured with funds to stop migration on Sudanese territory via Libya to Europe. So Al-Bashir is back in favour, despite the arrest warrants issued by the ICC for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Darfur. …

With Ethiopia, the EU has been working closely together for years. Several months ago, the Ethiopian army shot dead hundreds of Oromo people protesters who opposed land expropriation. Ethiopia is one of the countries of the investment plan which the Commission presented on Tuesday.