The 15th edition of the Pan African Ornithological Congress (PAOC), hosted by BirdLife Zimbabwe, will take place at Elephant Falls Conference Centre, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe from 21st -25th November 2022. PAOC held every four years, will bring together hundreds of ornithologists and bird enthusiasts from across the world to advance research, highlight importance, and promote conservation of African birds.
PAOC15 comes in the wake of the recently released BirdLife International’s State of the World Birds Report 2022 which indicates that nearly half of all birds’ species are in decline, with more than one in eight birds at risk of extinction. Across Africa, birds continue being faced with a myriad of threats including overexploitation for food and cage trade, habitat loss, infrastructure developments particularly energy developments that kill birds through electrocutions and collisions among others.
Over the last five decades, PAOC has made noteworthy contributions including research and developing capacity of budding African ornithologists, which has led to increased bird conservation action around the continent. The congress will also provide a platform for ornithologists and biologists from all over the world to present research and conservation results.
Julia Pierini, CEO of BirdLife Zimbabwe said:
“As BirdLife Zimbabwe, we feel honoured and proud to be hosting the 15th Pan African Ornithological Congress in the Victoria Falls. We will be welcoming over 300 delegates from 60 countries around the world (including over 33 countries from the African continent) to the venue of PAOC15 which lies within the spectacular Batoka Gorge World Heritage Site, a Ramsar site and also a Key Biodiversity Area. We look forward to an intense week of presentations, meetings, round table discussions and networking for the ultimate benefit of people and Nature in Africa.”
BirdLife Zimbabwe (BLZ) has achieved several notable successes with the organisation playing an increasingly important role in the conservation sector in Zimbabwe, focusing on addressing threats to species and key ecosystems. BLZ’s Preventing Extinctions Programme is dedicated to the conservation of indigenous bird species and aims to ensure that the main pressures facing Zimbabwe’s threatened birds and their habitats are adequately addressed through the identification and implementation of conservation actions, based on science-based research and monitoring.
A large focus of BLZ’s work is currently on the vulture crisis with the development of Vulture Safe Zones (VSZs) and also addressing poisoning as a major threat to vultures and other wildlife by integrating anti-poisoning Rapid Response Mechanisms. BLZ’s Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) Programme aims to conserve priority IBAs in Zimbabwe, through better management, threat mitigation and development of livelihood opportunities for local communities. The programme has also begun to manage the transition of IBAs to Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs).
Birdwatching tourism has significant economic benefits that can translate into increased conservation of key areas as well as benefits to local communities. BLZ is currently involved in capacitation of young community bird guides, in the development of the Great KAZA Birding Route and in the development of a hiking/birding trail in the Chimanimani KBA.
The BirdLife Partnership in Africa has been working to reverse bird species declines on the continent, including addressing vulture declines across the continent and promoting bird-safe energy among other interventions.
Dr Kariuki Ndang’ang’a, the Regional Director for Africa, BirdLife International said:
“Birds are excellent indicators of the health of the natural world as they are sensitive to various changes and are easily and widely studied. PAOC15 could not have come at a better time, when the climate change crisis, degradation of natural habitats, pollution, and infrastructure development among other factors threatens the survival of these birds. The BirdLife Partnership in Africa has been at the forefront of bird conservation in the continent, with our world leading conservation science helping to identify bird species at risk of extinction, threats facing them, important sites for these birds, and conservation actions needed. PAOC15 provides a chance to highlight the Partnership’s work and strengthen our collaborations across the continent, and indeed globally”
PAOC15 will be held at a crucial time, when countries are preparing for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting slated for December 2022 in Canada, where a new Global Biodiversity Framework will be finalized and adopted to halt biodiversity loss