World Wetlands Day 1999 in Colombia
Activities reported for World Wetlands Day 1999
Wednesday, February 24, 1999
Dear Ramsar friends,
I am a member of the Bogotá Ornithological Association, one of the chief ornithological associations in Colombia. We celebrated World Wetlands' Day '99 on February 6 in Córdoba wetland inside the city of Bogotá, together with the Community Board of Niza Neighborhood. Bogotá is located on an altiplano which has the most important Andean highland (2600 m) wetlands in the Northern Andes. However these have been drained, polluted and infilled in more than 90% of their original extension in the past 50 years. Córdoba wetland is one of the remaining ones and is located inside the city. In spite of receiving sewage waters and being crossed and limited by important motorways, it is host to 79 bird species and is a "hot spot" for migrant warblers from North America, as well as several rails, sandpipers, ducks, egrets and other wetland species.
The wetland is adjacent to a city park where we celebrated the day. In the early morning we had guided bird observation tours with children and neighbors of the wetland. Afterwards, we had an observation race with stations where we talked about the different birds that inhabit the wetland, plus information on the wetland itself, bird habits, importance of conservation of the wetland, amongst others. We also had color painting, bird sing imitation and contests for children.
Afterwards, we had a slide conference presented by two biologists working in Fundación Humedal La Conejera, a NGO that won the National Environmental Prize in 1998 and carries out conservation and restoration work in La Conejera Wetland, located in the outskirts of the city. The conference was meant for every public, and thus explained the importance and characteristics of wetlands, with emphasis on their biodiversity. It also explained the process that the NGO has carried out for restoring the wetland ecosystem, and presented some important results.
More recently, last Sunday 21 February, a group of 8 bird observers visited Fúquene lagoon, one of the greatest remaining lakes and wetlands in the Altiplano, located ca. 100 km. to the north of the city. The CAR (Corporación Autonoma Regional de Cundinamarca) contributed with the boat transport. The observers registered the two endemic and endangered wetland species in the region: Bogota Rail-Rallus semiplumbeus, and Apolinar's Marsh-Wren-Cistothorus apolinari, plus important populations of the endemic subspecies of Least Bittern - Ixobrychus exilis bogotensis, and Yellow-Hooded Blackbird-Agelaius icterocephalus bogotensis. It was a first step for possible future work of the ABO in the wetland, which needs urgent attention due to rapid drainage for agricultural purposes.
Report by Iván Darío Valencia
Universidad Nacional de Colombia