Nov 20, 2013

A new population of Taita apalis discovered - but deforestation will soon wipe it out

There might be less than 300 Taita apalis left - an incredibly small population. This unique species lives only on top of the highest peaks in the Taita hills of southern Kenya.

A male Taita apalis
With such a tiny number of individuals involved, the discovery of a new population of Taita apalis makes a huge news - even if it consists of just 8 pairs!

In October 2011, we discovered a new patch of forest in a site called Msidunyi, in the eastern part of the Taita Hills, and we observed a small number of Taita apalis in the forest.

Field work during 2012 and 2013, supported by a grant of the Conservation Fund of the African Bird Club, has enabled us to precisely map the territories of the 8 pairs of Taita apalis in Msidunyi. These are shown by the red lines and dots in the map below. As tiny as it might look, the population of Taita apalis in Msidunyi might represent as much as 5-10% of the individuals of the species.

Apalis territories in Msidunyi
 But as we struggle to map the few apalis territories in Msidunyi, deforestation progresses. The human population in Taita is growing fast, and as more people are added, more land is converted in to crops. In the two years that elapsed from our initial discovery to now, almost 20% if the indigenous vegetation in Msidunyi has been damaged or converted. Soon, little will be left there to protect.

Cut logs in Msidunyi, October 2012

1 comment: