Biodiversity is faltering the world over as BBC reveals that current trends imply that world governments will fail to meet their agreed targets of curbing biodiversity loss by 2010.
Habitat loss, hunting,pollution and the grande global warming phenomenon have all come down heavily to crush biodiversity to the edge of the limit of survival. These forces are more or less operating in a worldwide scale and should only in a most fair and responsible way be handled by all the states of the world.
But poisoning seems to have a special place especially as far as wiping out birds species is concerned. As I read National Geographic Channel’s article, Birds in “Big Trouble”Due to Drugs, Fishing,more, I could not stop feeling that poisons must be a nightmare threat capable of wiping out whole species in short time with very minimal room for the reversal of the situation. The article reiterated the catastrophic decimation of the white-rumped asian vultures due to Diclofenac poisoning by up to 99.9% of their original since 1990′s. The whole story can be read in the article Many Asian Vultures Close to Extinction.
Poisoning, which may result from pollution is operating in many regions in the world in remote locations in a most quiet way. I am however concerned by the poisoning of birds particularly in Kenya. While many tend to overlook the killing of birds because they are many, then I must say we are wrong because the kiling is mostly indiscriminate cutting across the flock species as well as the small numbered non-congregating species.
In a walk across the neighbourhood of Bunyala Rice Scheme a while ago,a young man was so determineed to show me a beautiful species that always perched on the cows like Ox-peckers but to his disappointment he could not sight it. I spotted a handful Wattled Starlings on a nearby tree in non-breeding plumage but he vehemently refused that those were not the birds. We went on to ask an elderly man grazing his cattle if he knew and had seen the birds and to his shocking surprise he confided that in a split of time it appeared the birds had vanished. We came to a poisoning site and stumbled on the carcass of a mature male wattled starling in breeding plumage concealed in a grass tuft. This was a poisoning site. From a distance I could see children and young men walking into homes with small hand-washing basins.I could not see any pool wher they may have been washing or drawing water, but why not use buckets to carry the water back to their homes? The young man I was with told me that actually the basins contained the purchased spoils of furadan poisoning which were none other than birds. He said the basins used would actually be much bigger during the peak hunting season during rice planting because the numbers poisoned would also be bigger. It then struck my mind that one conservationist and scout in Mwea Rice Scheme reported that in the 1990′s, poisoned birds quantifiable in pick ups were being ferried away from the rice scheme to unknown markets. What is common to these two sites (Bunyala and Mwea) is that in both cases, it has been reported that Tree Ducks, otherwise Whistling Ducks are almost not to be observed and most probably is because they have suffered heavy mortalities from poisoning.
This was not all. I witnessed one cyclist carrying abour 10 storks in a sack tied on his bicycle rear with their large bills protruding beyond the sack, which gave them away. We are not just talking of poisoning of a few birds but what I would refer to as birds concentrated in habitats with food abundance thereby drawing as many of their kind as possible, yet the poisoners also give it the best of their poisoning techniques and poisons to catch the most of them-basins, sacks and pick ups of poisoned birds.
As we walked back from the poisoning site, I could not help feeling that the grsslands were more deserted by grassland birds than they should be, given the thickness of the grass density I observed. Deserted or poisoned? Likely, the latter is the justification.