Bird species’ richness, relative abundance and conservation status in protected and unprotected areas of the Hadejia-Nguru Wetlands, north-east Nigeria
The role of protected areas is for the long-term conservation of biodiversity. This study investigated the effectiveness of the Hadejia-Nguru Ramsar Wetlands Protected Areas in maintaining bird community. We assessed and compared species’ richness, relative abundance and conservation status of birds between Protected Areas (PAs) and Unprotected Areas (UPAs) of the wetland. The study was conducted from October to December, 2015. Point-count method was employed during the study. Forty-eight points of 100 m radius and 400 m intervals were surveyed in PAs and 51 points in the UPAs. A total of 42, 255 individual birds of 148 species’ belonging to 23 orders and 50 families were recorded. Uprotected Areas had 133 species and PAs 121 species (p = 0.4514), however, PAs had higher birds abundance than unprotected areas. The two areas shared a greater percentage of species composition by 85%. Two globally threatened species were also recorded, the European Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur (Vulnerable) and Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus (Near Threatened). White-faced Whistling Duck Dendrocygna viduata, and Garganey Spatula querquedula were the dominant species in both areas. Results further revealed that PAs had slightly higher bird population with stable trend than UPAs, in contrast, though those with increasing population were more in UPAs. Overall, the population trend of birds in both habitats was found to be stable. Majority of resident species’ population trend were found to be on the increase, or stable, while intra- African and Palearctic migrants were found to be declining. This study highlights that not only PAs of the HNWs are important for bird conservation, but UPAs, too, are of great significance for the long-term conservation of the wetland bird community. Legal protection of certain wetland areas especially in the UPAs may help preserve larger bird species.
Keywords: Bird conservation; Hadejia-Nguru Wetlands; protected and unprotected areas; threats.