July 2, 2011

Fried birds meal threatens wildlife

Illegal harvesting of the Red-billed Quelea and other aviary species in Kondoa District, is slowly but surely annihilating the birds in this rural precinct. That is according to a recent study by two researchers, Mr Julius Nyahongo and Mr Elvin Røskaft. "The study was conducted at Kilema Village, in Kondoa District, Dodoma Region, where an enumerator recorded birds that were brought and sold at the local market on daily basis for an entire year," revealed the researchers' report. The local birds dealers earn over 20 million/- per year, close to 2 million/- per month between them for selling fried birds, used as delicacies or live ones that eventually end up being dinner. According to the research report, a total of 219.471 Red-billed Quelea, also known as 'Quelea-quelea,' valued at US $ 8441 (around 14 million/-) for fried birds and 6.421 Fischer's Lovebirds (Agaponi fischeri) worth US $ 4939 (nearly 8 million/-) were caught and sold at the market within the 12 months of the study. The scientists recorded that large numbers of Red-billed Quelea were mostly killed or caught within the period between the wet March and April months while Fischer's Lovebirds were illegally hunted during the dry (April to October) season.

An estimate 230.000 birds, are killed every year in just a small section of Kondoa, according to the study. To save the situation the researchers recommended a quota allocation for the harvesting of the Red-billed Quelea species, which seem to be mostly hunted. They also called for a research on the population status of all the species on the moratorium. "In addition a detailed study on the contribution of the 'Quelea-quelea' species to the local household income and food security in Kondoa District should be carried out," the scientists.

"Human have consumed wildlife since their origin and usually follow the optimal foraging strategies when going for a prey, that is consuming the largest and easiest prey at high encounter rate but switching to smaller prey species in areas where abundant large species have become extinct as the case in Kondoa," the study pointed out.
The findings were tabled during the 49th International Joint Meeting of Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation and the Africa Section of the Society Conservation Biology, which brought into Arusha 600 researchers from over 60 tropical countries. The concern of illegal birds' hunting in Kondoa arises just when Tanzania is working to promote alternative types of tourism, including birds' viewing, insects watching and cultural studies, diverting from the ordinary game viewing and mountain climbing packages. (Arusha Times)

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