NatureUganda organized a public talk about the impact of wildlife on the aviation industry in Uganda and around the world. Based on our surveys, Entebbe Airport in particular is located along a huge migration route for water birds. There are large numbers of eagles, storks, herons, swallows, Gulls, Terns, Egrets, and waders. Thousands of birds roost and feed on the Nakiwogo bay and around Entebbe peninsular and indeed there have been various incidences of airstrikes. Entebbe peninsular is described as a bird sanctuary due to the high diversity of birds both terrestrial and water birds.
Worldwide, air transport is greatly threatened by the presence of these species at any airport and airline companies can lose millions in replacement of aircraft engine after damage by any of them. The feeding, roosting and migration behavior of birds has to be clearly understood to reduce these occurrences.
Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) manages many other air fields and aerodromes across the country and probably these facilities face similar challenges. Aviation industry and biodiversity conservation are mutually dependent on each other especially in sub-Saharan Africa where tourism is almost wholly dependent on biodiversity. Uganda is one such country where tourists come exclusively to enjoy nature, scenery and biodiversity. CAA at Entebbe International Airport put in place the Bird Hazard Control Unit (BHCU) whose responsibility is to proactively ensure safety of aircraft operations using modern techniques for bird hazard control at airports. They have a committee to advise the authority on management of biodiversity at or near the airports. NatureUganda has been monitoring birds for the last fifteen years and we are happy to share information or expertise where we can that can improve safety.
Mr Luyinda Bbaale Deus from Civil Aviation Authoruty (CAA) presented a comprehensive overview of the presence of birds and other wildlife at the airport. He stated that "airline operators spend huge sums of money replacing aircraft parts after damage by birds and other wildlife. In tragic cases, there could be total destruction of aircraft, goods, life and environment."
Mr Bbaale highlighted the current challenges faced by the industry due to the presence of birds and other wildlife in the area and explained how these challenges are being addressed. He said that some of the methods of birds and other wildlife control involve participation of local communities around the Airport, however, the Airport authorities have adopted a number of measures and methods based on research, hazard controls and procedures to prevent birds and other wildlife hazards from occurring. He added that before a problem can be solved, the problem must be well understood. Click here for the presentation (PDF).