Working for birds in Africa

Sharpe's Longclaw in trouble

Date posted: 
Tuesday, August 19, 2008

We have already spent two weeks in the field. In particular, we were three days in the Aberdare National Park, one of the few protected areas where Sharpe's Longclaw Macronyx sharpei was reported in the past. Despite much searching we have not found any signs of Longclaw in the National Park. Either the species is very rare or even totally absent from there. What we found is that all the alpine moorland habitats in the National Parks are severely encroached by  shrubs and  dense grasses that make the habitat unsuitable for the Longclaw.

Sharpe's Longclaw Macronyx sharpei

Charlie Moores

Management actions might be urgently needed to restore the habitat, and we fear that very similar situations might occur even on Mt Kenya and Mt Elgon. What we might find is that no Sharpe's Longclaw (or very few) occur inside National Parks.

Outside of protected is areas also very bad. The current world food crisis is enhancing the pace of conversion of grassland to agriculture. At several sites we counted the birds in grasslands while they were being ploughed. We have plans to visit Mt Kenya NP and Eldoret area soon. Mt Elgon and Mau Narok zones will have to wait until tribal clashes will calm a little bit.

Dominic Kamau, one of my field assistants has elaborated a small project for school kid education in the primary schools of the Kinangop plateau. Teaching kids about the conservation importance of Kenya's grassland is a key conservation action in my opinion. We are now collaborating with 10000 Birds, a UK-based blog, to advertise Dominic's idea on the internet and raise funds for Dominic's project. Charlie Moores, the owner of the blog, has already produced an introduction posting on the blog.

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