Image: Conservation Action Trust
-Stephen Tsoroti
Of the 2,477 bird species in Africa, 1,400 (57%) are common to the continent.
A network of 1,248 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBBAs) have also been identified in Africa.
And this year, ornithologists will take stock on the status of those birds and their habitats.
Birdlife Zimbabwe will partner with the Kavango Zambezi Transfronteir Conservation Area ( which comprises 5 countries- Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and Angola) to organize the Pan Africa Ornithological Congress ( PAOC15),  on behalf of the PAOC Committee to be hosted from 20-25 of November 2023 in the Victoria Falls.
This will include the Batoka gorge IBBA which lies within the heart of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area.
According to Julia Peirini the local organizer of the congress the meeting will bring together both professional and amateur ornithologists from all over the world to promote the study and conservation of worldwide birds.
In doing so, the congress aims  to encourage the participation of young students to foster their interest and understanding of birds and the need to preserve them as part of Africa’s natural heritage.
PAOC15 will also attract the attention of bird enthusiasts from across the globe and help promote the inclusion of Zimbabwe on the global tourism map.
“Amateur ornithologists are the life blood of bird conservation, undertaking citizen science that allows monitoring of population trends, changes in status, threats and challenges,” says Peirini, who is also the Director of Birdlife Zimbabwe.
“These in turn provide an indicator of how healthy the environment is and consequently what conversation actions are needed,” she added.
The theme of the event is: ‘Urbanising Africa and its effect on Birds’ it makes reference to the growing urban centers within Africa.
With the development of large urban areas, there are very real challenges as these urban centers attempt to balance the protection of the environment and wildlife as well as accommodate human activity and provide livelihoods.
The congress will be hosting a number of symposia that will also be addressing issues being faced in Zimbabwe and throughout Africa at a landscape level including the threats to the vulture populations through poisoning, wetland habitat degradation affecting cranes.
Zimbabwe has a high diversity of birds (over 670 species) located across a variety of different ecological biomes.
 With PAOC15 being held in Zimbabwe, it presents the unique opportunity of showcasing the bird and biodiversity within Zimbabwe onto the African stage and beyond.
The inaugural PAOC was held in Livingstone, Zambia, in 1957.
Sixty years later, the PAOC is returning to the region, and will be held over 5 days and will be comprised of the following; oral communications, expositions, roundtables, symposia, training of key themes of emerging issues.
 PAOC will be attended by ornithologists, conservationists and students of African ornithology.
In excess of 300 participants are expected at PAOC15, from across Africa, Europe and America.