IITA Forest Center holds the second edition of Nigerian Bird Festival
The IITA Forest Center has recorded a growing interest in bird conservation, especially among students. From 28 to 29 November, the Center, which advocates for the preservation of biodiversity and is funded by the AG Leventis Foundation and the US Consulate General Lagos, celebrated the second edition of the Nigerian Bird Festival (NBF).
The two-day event was a convergence of ornithologists, environmentalists, conservationists, and students. The students were members of nine Forest Center School Conservation Clubs, distributed in Ekiti, Osun, and Oyo states.
Participants at the festival were engaged in different activities, which aimed at increasing publicity for bird conservation, from music to poem recitation and drama, and from bird watching to quizzes and camping. The event provided exposure to the students, many of whom have decided to have a career in ornithology, the study of birds.
Apart from being an indicator of a good and habitable environment, birds play crucial roles in enhancing food security through pollination, breaking of seed dormancy, dispersal and insect control. Talatu Tende, a Research Associate at the AP Leventis Ornithological Research Institute said, “The absence of birds in an area is an indication of unstable environment, even for humans.”
Adewale Awoyemi, IITA Forest Center Manager, spoke on the need to raise awareness about the importance of birds, especially in urban centers. He said, “Ignorance leads to abusive practices such as environmental pollution and bird hunting.” However, NBF is an avenue for raising awareness and educating young minds against these detrimental practices. In Awoyemi’s opinion, bird watching and conservation practices are becoming more popular in Nigeria. He, however, called for greater involvement by everyone in “spreading the gospel of biodiversity conservation.”
He said he expects that the students would diffuse the knowledge they gathered at NBF when they return to their localities.