The importance of Ruzizi Congolese Plain, South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo for the conservation of birds.
MetadataShow full item record
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), biodiversity components provide products and services that millions of people depend on for medicines, food, tourism, and ecosystem services. However, many bird species are found in unprotected wetlands where some species are threatened and declining. Biodiversity decline can have serious livelihood consequences for the communities who depend on natural resources and benefits of ecosystems. Identifying which bird species are managed there, which ones need to be conserved and protected, is therefore critical. In this study I undertook a survey on the importance of Ruzizi Congolese plain, South Kivu Province, DRC, for conservation of birds. The study aimed to assess which bird species are managed in the area in order to suggest which issues ensure their stability. Bird were recorded and identified using mist netting, transect counts, and traditional baskets. Eight sites distributed into three vegetation zones; the lakeshore area, the wetland area and the upland area, were targeted in the Ruzizi Congolese plain. At each site, sampling was done twice in wet seasons and twice in dry seasons during 2010 and 2011 years. 252 bird species were recorded. These were distributed into 138 genera and 54 families. Of them: one vulnerable species (White-headed Vulture); two species of globally conservation concern (Spot-breasted Ibis and Great Snipe); two birds of Assemblage of restricted-range species whose breeding distributions define an Endemic Bird Area (EBA) or Secondary Area (SE) (Sharpe‟s Akalat and Tanzania Masked Weaver); 12 restricted-range species of the Afrotropical Highlands Biome; 143 waterbirds; 73 migrants and 109 species that fulfil five of seven Ramsar criteria of bird conservation concern, making the Ruzizi Congolese plain qualify for an Important Bird Area (IBA) for conservation and for a potential Ramsar site. The diversity, the density and species abundance were significantly greater in the wetland area than in the lakeshore area, and in the upland area. The Ruzizi Congolese wetland should be recognized because of the disproportionate habitat value it provides for birds. However, the study showed that bird species are facing diverse and high levels of defaunation, deforestation and habitat encroachment viewed largely as human function actions in the Ruzizi Congolese plain. Then, for these species to persist in the future in the area, there is a need for decision-makers and NGOs to work with local people; farmers, cattle keepers, and fishermen for a compliance with the environmental law of 50 m free from ponds, rivers, and along the lakeshore area as stated by the Congolese Forest code, Law No 11/02, dated 29th August 2002. Finally, there is a need of designation of the Ruzizi Congolese plain as an Important Bird Area for conservation by BirdLife International, and as a Ramsar site by the Ramsar Secretariat Bureau.