Scouts’ supervision still key in Bunyala Rice Irrigation Scheme

Dear readers,

Apologies for not posting updates for some time. I was away from Bunyala from the 9th until the 14th of this month on a Western Kenya bird guiding trip but also on a marketing mission for this work against bird poisoning in Bunyala. I anticipate more support from the pledges from my friends that I was with during the trip and I am hopeful this will extend the project for an even longer time.

As my birding trip neared its end on the 12th of October, I received the first text message bearing news of poisoning from my lead scout who I had left in charge of the monitoring for poisoning of birds. The coded text read, “50P-R, WS”; this when translated means 50 birds poisoned-Ruffs and Wood Sandpipers. My first reaction was to travel back to Bunyala as soon as the safari ended in Nairobi. This I did.

I got to Bunyala on the morning of the 15th & proceeded to do the inspection of the site for any obvious signs of poisoning. It was easy to predict the area with easy likelihood of poisoning. This was the eastern end which has since last month been the area focused on for rice planting. With change of dress code and not bearing my customary grey & white strap bag (those that follow me on Facebook know the bag well; if you wish to follow me on FB please just search and add Martin Odino), I was not easily recognizable.

One notorious and stubborn poacher therefore ended up walking right into my company brandishing a bait sack-bag and hoe for digging up earthworms and insects. These he had mixed with poison-allegedly Furadan- and he was off to lay it out in the fields which continue to be ploughed and sown with the rice crop. The fortunate thing however is that his plans did not match having taken note that I was back in the neighborhood.

I had also been informed that one of my scouts was playing a double role also as an informant to the poachers briefing them on my available on site in exchange for a small fee. While he objects to the allegations, he has been reprimanded and warned that he has attracted possible reporting for his arrest.

The recent past days have been characterized by extended scouting hours from early morning with a few hours break after midday then gain a late afternoon-into-the night watch. We however sometimes have to work in smaller teams at the moment as the scouts also have to work in their fields and these rotate as time-tabled so that each also has crop cultivated for their sustenance. We have also had to approach a few local elders who have complied to persuade the obstinate poachers against the poisoning. While the only poisoning incident this month seems to have taken us aback and short of attaining our goal of ensuring absolutely no poisoning this month we are still hopeful that the situation will be contained and the project’s effect enhanced through the intervention of the village elders. I am further required to keep my appearance pronounced at the site for the sake of preventing any further poisoning incidences and I am therefore camping on a few yards just from the rice scheme.

From an early morning scouting session; taking off my binoculars

That aside, the site continues to thrive with more and more migrants alongside local species.

 Migrant Ruffs at Bunyala congregating for the night time

Migrant waders joining in foraging resident egrets

Representatives of some of the migrants in Bunyala; Common Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper and Ringed Plover

A few more of the increasing numbers of White-faced Whistling ducks that were nearly all poisoned just a few years back

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One Comment

  1. Pirjo
    Posted October 22, 2012 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    Thank you Martin for this update.Few setbacks, but overall a much better situation than in previous years.

    Lovely pics :-)

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