“What are we going to do this year for World Migratory Bird Day?”, was what school children at Kondembaia were asking when the team of the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL) visited their school in April this year. Every year, the celebration of World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) is one of the highlights for the CSSL School Nature Clubs (SNCs) and their schools in Diang Chiefdom, Koinadugu district.

On 11th May, 2024, the CSSL – Bread for the World (BftW) project team in Kabala celebrated World Migratory Bird Day in Kondembaia Town. The celebration featured SNC members, community members, stakeholders, the media and heads of schools and nature club Teacher Coordinators. It was a day full of activities, joy and awareness raising all around this year’s theme: “Protect Insects, Protect Birds”.

The celebration started with a bird watching exercise organized for over 150 SNCs pupils drawn from the project communities around Lake Sonfon. The project Field Technician, Fasalie Conteh, provided the pupils with a bird book manual and binoculars to enable them to clearly sight and identify different birds during the excursion. The pupils spotted some Great Blue Turacos, Emerald Sterlings, Common Yellowthroat and many more bird species. This exercise helped the SNC pupils and teachers to broaden their knowledge about the birds in their own environment and the conservation of migratory birds, and the importance of insects to birds’ survival.

“Being one of the participants in this year’s World Migratory Bird Day celebration, I am so delighted to have sighted beautiful birds and also learned their names through the bird book manual. I will continue to serve as one of the School Nature Club Ambassadors to cascade the messages learned from this celebration to my community.”

The bird watching exercise was followed by the next highlight of the day: a football match between the Kondembaia Junior Secondary girls and Sunday Foundation girls from Dalakuru. It was a very tough but lively match. CSSL used this event to raise public awareness on the relevance of protecting birds and insects, and their interconnection in the ecosystem.

After the football match, CSSL transitioned the event into a seminar at the Kondembaia Community Centre to continue to raise awareness and educate participants on the key messages promoted in the annual theme.

Alhaji Osman Kamara, BftW project Communication and Advocacy Officer, highlighted the need for the conservation and protection of migratory birds and their habitats. He continued to raise awareness about the threats faced by migratory birds, their ecological importance, and encouraged all present to mobilise efforts to ensure the protection of these important birds.

The Project Manager, Papanie Bai-Sesay, reflected the minds of participants through this year’s theme He explained the intricate relationship between insects and birds, as insects play a critical role in the life of birds and their habitats. Migratory birds feed on insects. Insects are an essential source of energy to migratory birds. Bai-Sesay encouraged all to start practicing healthy environmental and conservation actions to help protect insects and birds in the environment.

The celebration was climaxed by a thrilling cultural dancing competition among SNC pupils. Cultural dance is one of the means CSSL uses to sensitize the public, and a unique approach to pass on environmental messages to community members. SNC pupils are the ambassadors that cascade messages to their various communities.

“This year´s celebration was really a special one. Everyone celebrated with full heart and enthusiasm. I cannot even say which part of the day was the best – but of course, for me to see the boys and girls with the binoculars is always special. To see their excitement when they spot a beautiful bird and show it to their colleagues. This is what CSSL´s work is about: connecting people to nature. I am sure today we connected our communities and schools to nature. This will help us in our future efforts to protect Lake Sonfon and its unique environment.”

For more information about our work around Lake Sonfon follow this link: Saving Lake Sonfon