It has been a long haul in an attempt to check the bird/possible human poisonings in Bunyala Rice Irrigation Scheme in Western Kenya. I can attest to the fact that the poisoning practice has waned and with our continued persistent efforts, I foresee a total control of the situation.
Perharps the most significant indication that the birdlife populations are recovering is the increase in number or resident White-faced Whistling Ducks. Only between 2 & 5 individuals remained between 2009 and 2011 following their intense poisoning for human consumption. These were evidently traumatized and would fly off from suspicion if we attempted to get near them. At the moment, about 100 individuals reside at the site. The population may constitute individuals that may have moved in from other external subpopulations which may still suggest traumatic nasty poisoning has reduced.
White-faced whistling ducks roosting at Bunyala Rice Scheme
Joseph, my lead scout looking complacent
We can afford to look bored at the ‘NO POISONING SIGHT’ on this night survey 2 days ago
When this problem of deliberate bird poisoning was first presented to the pesticide regulatory authorities- the Pest Control Products Board of Kenya- & the local manufacturers of pesticide control substance, Agrochemicals Association of Kenya (Crop Life Kenya), it was received with vehement denial, contempt and even deemed a fabrication by the champions that spoke out about it notably Paula Kahumbu & myself. With hard evidence from the field, it became acknowledged but little attended to. Rather, a majority marvelled at the gravity of the malpractice. Nonetheless, many still supported this research & conservation campaign against the poisonings & my appreciations go especially to Wildlife Direct; grant organizations including International Foundation for Animal Welfare, Rufford Small Grant for Nature Conservation, African Bird Club, Crowder Messersmith Conservation Fund; also individual donors whom I have never met but one. Amongst the donors, I have in addition to their regular funding support, had online correspondence with at least 4 with whom I have directly asked for advice, shared with ideas, problems on the ground & even keep in mind their words of encouragement when the going gets tough. I must also mention that our twitter account @EndBirdPoaching was opened and is managed by one of my key donors (Pirjo Itkonen). Finally, my team of scouts has done/continues doing a commendable job and is the machinery behind the realized results. Amongst these are the very poachers that poisoned the birds but have joined this noble course.
I shall put up an update on our survey for raptors with my team of scouts against poisoning around the rice scheme & beyond in our next post. This is one of our newly added activities to our expansion to the vigilance strategy against deliberate bird poisoning so please keep checking our website, follow us on twitter @EndBirdPoaching and keep supporting us since we are still far from ending our vigilance.
“…Being able to fund your workers in the project is oh so important. We cannot save wildlife and ecosystems if we don’t provide incomes for local people and communities. All successful conservation projects around the world involve local communities in some way….”
- Brenton Head (one of our key donors)