In late November 2013, the “Welcome to the Birds” events were organized for the first time in Vietnam to observe one of nature’s most ambitious and long-distance migrants: the migration of birds from the breeding sites in the north to the warm wintering places in the south of the globe.
The Welcome to the Birds events were organized by Viet Nature Conservation Centre in coordination with two National Parks/RAMSAR sites: Xuan Thuy National Park (Nam Dinh province in the Red River Delta) and Tram Chim National Park (Dong Thap province in the Melong River Delta), and Vietnam Wild Tour – a Vietnamese bird watching tour company based in Ho Chi Minh City.
The events are part of an annual international program created by BirdLife International and the UK based Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) to demonstrate that there is international support and cooperation for conserving migratory birds and their habitats along the Asian flyways stretching from the Taimyr Peninsula in Russia to Alaska in the north to Australia and New Zealand in the south.
“We believe that the wonder of annual bird migration will be a way of gaining support for conservation amongst the broader population, even those who have been previously unengaged,” said Mr. Le Trong Trai, Director of Viet Nature. “The events in Vietnam would aim at developing broader understanding of migrant bird species and the needs to protect the key local sites along their flyways. We would also want to use the events to introduce bird watching as a new hobby in Vietnam.”
The events attracted more than 60 people including bird specialists, nature lovers, bird watchers, bird photographers, journalists, and volunteers. Each two-day event provided opportunities for participants to discuss issues facing the migrant birds, the National Parks in the coastal regions and to learn about bird watching. Many participants came to know about bird watching for the first time.
Mr. Le Ong Do, a chemistry teacher based in Ho Chi Minh city was excited about the experience, “It’s great to know that as many as two thousand species of bird travel thousands of miles between the north and the south every year. But it’s even more shocking to realize that nearly half more than 40% of these migratory species are declining, and nearly 200 are now classified as globally threatened.” Every year in their great distance travels, the birds face many dangers that can cost their lives: destruction and degradation of habitats, loss of critical stopover sites such as coastal wetlands, illegal hunting, midst nets, and poisoning and pollution.
Based on the success of the Welcome to the Birds events, Viet Nature will continue to organize this program annually in Vietnam to support the development of Vietnamese nature lover and volunteers who would ideally participate in nature conservation efforts in Vietnam and worldwide.