- Decries Deliberate Killing of Tagged Animals
From Ameachi Prosper (The New Diplomat’s Delta Correspondent)
Amid drama, a migrant bird purported to have flown from Finland has been killed by an animal hunter in Delta, triggering reactions among conservationists in the country.
It became clear that the large bird — of Osprey specie — was migrating, following a sliver ring worn on its leg, with phone number scribbled on it.
The bird was said to have perched in Ofagbe, an agrarian community in Isoko North LGA in the Nigeria’s South-south state of Delta.
According to sources within the community, a hunter allegedly aimed at the tagged bird, bringing it down while hunting for animals in the forest.
Apparently surprised when he saw identification tag on the bird’s leg with a phone number on it, he informed fellow community members on the discovery.
When the number was dialed, a Finnish was said to have answered the call, pleading that the bird should be preserved in a mortuary. According to the locals familiar with the conversation, the researcher noted that he would be coming from Finland with his team for the bird.
The New Diplomat’s checks show that the winter temperature in parts of Finland has been averaging between -4°C – 2°C for some days now and it’s expected to last throughout December, January, February and March in the Scandinavian country.
Due to the cold weather condition in many European countries at this time of the year, birds do migrate to distant lands, especially to Africa where they could get better weather for survival as harmattan/hot season sets on the continent.
According to avian researchers, birds migration is a natural miracle as migratory birds fly hundreds and thousands of kilometres to find the best ecological conditions and habitats for feeding, breeding and raising their young ones.
Many of the birds do migrate back to their natural habitat where they were born when favorable weather returns, running a continuous cycle year after year.
However, the concept of bird migration has not been fully understood by Africans as some attach ominous signs to seeing strange birds in communities, making migrant birds vulnerable in many African countries.
In Nigeria, conservationists working with the Nigeria Conservation Foundation (NCF) have been trying to drive awareness in local communities, collaborating with traditional chiefs on the need to protect migrant birds.
Mr. Stephen Aina, Specie Conservation Desk, NCF told The New Diplomat that in recent years, the Foundation has recorded similar killings of Osprey birds in Ogun and Kogi states, no thanks to African inherent beliefs and mysticism.
He said the Osprey is among the endangered species of birds migrating to Africa because they’re not the usual birds found around on the continent. “People kill them for fettish reasons especially due of the ring attached to the birds and not necessarily because they want to eat them or do any other thing with them. When people sight the ring on the birds, they think they’re being sent to attack the community or as an ominous sign.”
Aina said researchers and bird conservationists often attach rings to migratory birds for population census purposes.
“When the birds return back to base, researchers tracking the birds’ population will go to the wild to resight them, do a count to estimate the probability of resighting such birds in the future when they do migrate.”
When asked what would a researcher likely do with a dead bird, the conservation expert replied: “Maybe he’s coming to Nigeria to take the DNA sample of the bird and retrieve the ring. But it almost impossible to take the bird back due to the Covid-19 situation now. But he could take the measurement of the bird and its DNA sample for the purpose of research.”
Aina, who decried the deliberate killing of migrant birds in the country, called for more awareness among the Nigerian public to sensitize citizens against killing of tagged animals for mystical reasons.
“The bird could be of significant research interest to the country. The series of deliberate killing of tagged osprey highlights the need for more awareness creation on detach mysticism from animals borne tags.” He said.