Date: August 08, 2015
About 300,000 species of birds are either killed or disappear annually because of cultural practices and the ongoing destruction of Mau forest.
Conservationists have raised concern that deforestation, forest fires that burn bird nests and use of pesticides in farming zones neighbouring it will reduce the birds population and eventually kill the multi-million tourism industry in Masai Mara Game Reserve.
“Birds are a vital component in the ecosystem because they play an important role in the biodiversity maintenance. They are as important as any other wildlife,” says Tuqa Jirmo, a senior Kenya Wildlife Service warden-Conservation Education and Community Extension and Public Programme.
He says the annual cultural practices where initiates from communities neighbouring the expansive forest are forced to kill different species of birds to prove their hunting prowess before turning into warriors has greatly contributed to the decline in the annual bird count by KWS.
The cultural practice is deep seated among the Maasai, Kipsigis, Ogieks among other communities neighbouring forests and water-catchment areas in the Rift Valley region. “Every year about 4,000 initiates kill an average of about 30 birds before becoming warriors.
This endangers the survival of birds in Mau forest and in the Mara,” he says. The various bird species, some with listed population have almost been wiped out to promote the cultural practices, a recent KWS bulletin says. “Conservation education should be taught among communities and in learning institutions,” says Jirmo.
The conservationist says although all birds are protected under local wildlife laws and international conventions, weak punishments meted out to culprits have not deterred the vice.