By Abdul Kaprr Dumbuya

Sierra Leone is a country rich in biodiversity including bird species. Birds are an important indicator of environmental health and hence, very crucial in the ecosystem. Current data suggests the existence of more than 600 bird species in Sierra Leone, but several of them are under tremendous threat. Increased deforestation, urbanization, other unsustainable practices and environmental pollution continue to have a heavy toll on the habitats and food chains of birds, which put them in perpetual existential danger. 

In a bid to continue to support its bird conservation drive in schools and communities, HEIDELBERG Cement provided funds to the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL) through BirdLife’s Spring Alive program for the 2023 campaign. The overall aim of this program is to help African children, their families, friends and teachers, to understand, engage with, and take action for birds and nature and to understand the need for international conservation for migratory species. It also encourages the broader community to get more involved with nature conservation in their respective countries by supporting BirdLife partners. CSSL is the BirdLife partner in Sierra Leone.

CSSL designed a poster capturing most of the threatened bird species in Sierra Leone and their respective status (according to the IUCN red list). The poster, which was accompanied with a flyer (guide) containing key messages, aimed at educating school pupils, teachers and the communities about ways to identify such threatened species when spotted in their environment, and to take active actions to protect them.

A team from the organisation’s Environmental and Communication Department visited ten (10) schools in the Western Area Urban and Rural districts, and distributed the IEC materials and provided the pupils and teachers with basic education about the content of the materials. The engagement sessions, which spanned from January 26th through 31st 2024, were hugely successful. The team met with many young ambassadors for nature and biodiversity, and had engaging conversations about wildlife, threatened birds and how all is connected with the protection of forests and nature conservation.

“…thanks to CSSL and the donors. This was really very educative and insightful especially for our pupils. We will take it from here by having weekly nature talks during our morning devotion”, Augustine Babadi-Kamara, Principal, Peninsula Secondary School, Waterloo.

“Before today, I used to think bird caging was helpful to birds, especially pigeons. But I now realise how cruel we have been to these important creatures… I’ll take the message home to my family and neighborhood”, Mariatu Conteh, pupil of the Alfred Akibo-Betts Municipal Junior Secondary School, Freetown.  

The materials are online and on school noticeboards where more people continue to access them.  Please click on the link provided to see the poster on our website and check your knowledge “Do you know our threatened species?”: