Sep 7, 2013

Forest still shrinking in the Taita hills

Lawrence Wagura, one of our students, is in the Taita hills, the last tiny refuge of Taita apalis, one of the rarest birds in the world. Together with Lawrence, and Kenyan ornithologist Mwangi Githiru, we have been working on this species for four years, trying to save its habitat and rescue its population, which we estimate to be between 200 to 300 individuals.

Unfortunately, as human population in the Taita hills increases fast, pressure on the last natural habitats grows. The Taita apalis is particularly at risk, because this species occurs in shrubby habitats along forest edges, which are often the places where cultivated fields encroach.

See below one photo I have just received from Lawrence. This site was occupied by one territory of Taita apalis no more than one year ago, but has been turned into cultivation now. With such a rare species as the Taita apalis, the loss of even a single nesting pair is causing a serious threat to the survival of the species. And this trend does not seem to ease down. Bad news for Taita apalis.

Taita apalis territory transformed into cultivation (photo L. Wagura)

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