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Those pestilential Indian House Crows and their destructive habits

Coastweek -- It has just occurred to me that the only person who can overrule the ban on the importation of Starlicide, is the Hon. Najib Balala.

He does what he says and as minister for Tourism, he would be the best person to support the crow elimination exercise.

I have therefore added a few additional facts to this letter and hope that these may highlight the seriousness of this situation along the Kenya Coast, and hope that this will be acceptable by you On House Crows and their destructive habits.



I am still disappointed that the authorities are quiet on this problem.

One would have thought that the KWS and the county government would have done everything to get rid of this alien bird. To tackle the population dynamics of any species one needs to know the behaviour patterns of that particular species.

In the case of this crow (Corvus splendens) there have been several studies and the recommended substance to be used in their elimination is Starlicide.

How it is administered and where, is equally important.

Two trees imported from India have added to the ability of this bird to multiply in such a manner as to be a threat not only to resident species of birds, but also to humans.

They nest in these trees and also collect nesting material from the foliage of these trees.

My earlier letter received one response from an individual who is desirous of getting rid of these pests.

Some families have the bad habit of routinely feeding these birds from their terraces and balconies.

The house crow (Corvus splendens), also known as the Indian, greynecked, Ceylon or Colombo crow, is a common bird of the crow family that is of Asian origin but now found in many parts of the world, where they arrived assisted by shipping. It was introduced to East Africa around Zanzibar (about 1897) and Port Sudan. House crows feed largely on refuse around human habitations, small reptiles and mammals, and other animals such as insects and other small invertebrates, eggs, nestlings, grain and fruits. Highly opportunistic birds, and given their omnivorous diet, they can survive on nearly anything that is edible.
They have absolutely no knowledge of the threat and nuisance these birds pose to humans.

One would expect hoteliers from the Kenya Coast to make serious efforts to help in the elimination of these pests, but at the moment there is no indication that a collective endeavour is underway nor is there a real awareness that this bird is a threat to tourism.

From records I have received, it is has been revealed that they are now inland, a lot further than Voi and can be seen at Makindu—a mere 120 miles from Nairobi.

There was a time when experienced shotgun owners were keen in helping to eliminate these birds.

However, shotgun cartridges are expensive and it is still undisputed that the best way to get rid of these birds is either with Starlicide or Diazinon.

Cahil Marduff, Cyprus.



Time is long overdue to bring back the ‘Angamiza Kurabu’ exercise

Coastweek -- The first sound one hears along the Kenya coast before the break of dawn is the cawing of the Indian House Crow (Corvus splendens).

It is now well over a half century since this alien bird arrived along Kenya’sshores and filled an ecological niche so successfully, that all the indigenous birds have now completely disappeared.

No creature is as rapacious as this obnoxious bird.

Today’s generation of Kenyans assume that this bird is endemic to this country.

Our song birds and a variety of colourful birds such as weavers, rollers cordon bleu, orioles and shrikes have all been wiped out.

Even birds of prey, particularly falcons and kites are no match for this aggressive bird.

Resident birds have almost all been wiped out from their natural habitat.

The resident pied crow too has disappeared!

Some years ago a group of folks decided to set up an operation they named ‘Angamiza Kurabu’ or wipe out the crow.

This league of men consisted of hoteliers, airline executives and individuals who sensed that this bird was a major threat to beach hotels, and consequently tourism among other things.

Because of its scavenging habits it is also a carrier of diseases.

Among the “experts” chosen to undertake this exercise was a well known tour operator and avian expert who was assigned the job of poisoning these birds.

He was assisted by another individual who was to be active in the field where garbage was regularly dumped at a known site.

Here and in most locations, these crows flocked in large numbers.

It was then considered that they could be targeted effectively and completely wiped out or have their numbers reduced to a manageable size.

Contributions came from various donors who wanted an end to this menace.

It was considered that this was the definitive way for coast people to be rid of this pest.

Surprisingly K.W.S. had no part in this exercise, or showed any commitment from their side.

While pastoral tribes in Kenya are given free reign to poison predators such as lions with Furadan, a deadly poison which is residual and kills hundreds of vultures as a consequence;

We were at that time told that the importation of the specific poison for killing crows was not allowed.

Sadly, the project ended as abruptly as it had begun.

Whatever happened to the funds and those who had taken this responsibility?

Will this menace go on in perpetuity?

I can only hope that this menace will cease to exist and that positive action will be taken despite the lukewarm endeavours of those who launched the “Angamiza Kurabu” exercise.

Cahil Marduff, Cyprus.

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