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Pestilential plague of the Indian House crow along Kenya coast | Coastweek

The House Crow (Corvus Splendens) is a rapacious, highly intelligent creature who has inadvertently found its way from its native India into our African eco-system where it is a vicious, voracious, killer; with no natural enemies and an ability to dominate all. Concerned Observers agree that within our lifetime this bird will pollute our cities in the millions, living intimately off our filth and leaving us totally denuded of natural creatures.

Pestilential plague of the Indian House crow blights Kenya coast

Coastweek -- It was early morning when Juma left his simple thatched house on the edge of the beach outside Kenya’s coastal village of Kikambala, writes Duncan Mitchell from Vipingo.

The day was cool and a gentle breeze rustled the coconut trees.

There was no bird song. Only the persistent nasal cawing of the House Crow, or 'Kunguru' in Juma’s kiSwahili.
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In fact the harsh dominating cries of that black ghostly bird made Juma pause and think.

When was the last time he had heard the coo of doves in the morning, or the distinctive evening gurgle of the bottle-bird?

These days one never saw a single one of those beautifully-colored Love Birds that once flocked the coast region.

Where had all the twittering sunbirds gone?

Recently he found a dead Lilac Breasted Roller, Kenya’s National Bird, with its eyes cruelly plucked out.

It seemed every African bird around his village had disappeared or had been wiped out.

He thought more about the Crows, scavengers, who were comparatively new to his part of Kenya’s Coast.

  Pestilential plague of the Indian House crow along Kenya coast | Coastweek

'Recently he found a dead Lilac Breasted Roller, Kenya’s National Bird, with its eyes cruelly plucked out. It seemed as if every African bird around his village had disappeared or had been wiped out'.
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His neighbor had given up trying to rear chickens, no sooner the chicks were left to free-range when they were snatched by Crows.

Another neighbor complained of ugly, septic, sores on lactating cows and goats’ udders caused by vicious Crows pecking milk-drops with their deadly (and infectious) beaks.

Juma strongly suspected the rotting sickness in his small papaya and mango orchard was somehow caused by infected Crows gorging his ripe fruit, vectoring the fungus onto his neighbors’ trees and even further.

Juma did not know of the other deadly diseases the Crow carried; Avian ‘flu that can wipe out the chicken industry or Cryptococcus, a particularly horrible fungal infection, fatal to humans and animals.

He knew little of Crow ways; of plucking up putrid garbage from one area and carelessly discarding the mess in flight so it dropped aimlessly, into a child’s playground or on a doorstep to be trodden within.

Their droppings so toxic it can blister car paint.

His once pristine Kikambala beach was spoiled with fish offal snatched by Crows from the fishermen’s cleaning-stage, dropped, and left to rot.

The beach cleaners, the crabs and the sea-birds, had long been killed or chased away by the Crows.

The loss of crabs turned the fine white beach sand a dirty grey and the sea’s natural leavings were no longer speedily removed so the beach now smelled of things nasty.

Even fresh coconuts, he mused to himself, were a problem.

Coconut trees were a favorite Kunguru nesting site and an attack by irate Crows forty feet up was no laughing matter.

He remembered his grandfather telling stories about how it was only the bats who could pollinate the mighty baobab tree … he gazed with concern at the massive tree near his house, its huge white flowers hung heavy, ready to release the evening bat-attracting aroma.

Only there were no bats, all had been killed by Kunguru.

His daughter spread a blanket in the shade of a neem-tree and laid her toddler carefully as she busied herself arranging washing.

Juma smiled; the little mite’s face and fingers were thickly smeared with sticky breakfast porridge.

Suddenly the Crow cawing changed note and he became aware of sinister, dark, shapes flitting silently into the shade-tree, the Crows were gathering.
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He shouted and waved frantically; they bleated sneers and casually hopped higher, ever watching the baby.

Juma is not alone in his concern.

The last count puts the population of Crows in Mombasa at 0.8 Million, with another 1.3 Million thriving along the Coast from Tanga to Lamu.

Having been introduced into Zanzibar by the British in the late 18th Century, the Indian House Crow population explosion now totally dominates the East Africa Coast…to the detriment of all our other natural specie, from birds to baby turtles.

The alien invader has successfully conquered and the Horror has already started!

Arrivals at Mombasa’s airport are greeted with swooping black devils flying unrestricted through the Arrivals Hall, the Departure Area and in the Restaurants, snatching food out of innocent tourist hands;

Splattering filthy, highly corrosive excrement across bare skin and expensive holiday luggage.

At the same airport, a "murder of crows" (their true collective noun) could cause catastrophic damage should they be ingested into a jet engine.

Mombasa’s hospitals corridors have become space-ways for marauding crows, skillfully angling down corridors as they snatch who-knows-what off trundling trolleys.

Our once much-vaunted luxury beach hotels employ waiters specifically to chase off Crows as they stalk tourists casually strolling with full plates from buffet to the beach.

  Pestilential plague of the Indian House crow along Kenya coast | Coastweek

To try and at least lower the sheer numbers of Crows; last year a program was started near Vipingo outside Mombasa where young men were paid to destroy Crow eggs for cash reward. Over 8,500 Crow eggs were smashed in five months. Astoundingly the vacuum created by destroyed eggs was rapidly filled, whole family groups of Crows from other areas simply moved in.
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This Indian House Crow invasion is no "natural phenomena" that will eventually "run its course".

The House Crow is a rapacious, highly intelligent creature who has inadvertently found its way from its native India into our African eco-system where it is a vicious, voracious, killer; with no natural enemies and an ability to dominate all!

Concerned Observers agree that within our lifetime this bird will pollute our cities in the millions, living intimately off our filth and leaving us totally denuded of natural creatures.

The Indian Crow is highly intelligent.

Stories of their unpicking intricate mazes using twig tools to get food are legion.

Point a stick at them gun-style and they will knowingly shy away.

Traditional crow-traps only work until the Crow associates them with danger and thereafter cleverly avoids being caught.

Strong family bonds mean they will readily mob together and defend against any attacker.

Once they invade an area, they dominate completely; any and all opposition are killed or chased far away.

Witness up to ten crows harassing a Fish Eagle in mid-flight, the delicate hunting Eagle cannot afford even the most cursory injury so will take evasive escape action, never to return.

To try and at least lower the sheer numbers of Crows; last year a program was started near Vipingo outside Mombasa where young men were paid to destroy Crow eggs for cash reward.

Over 8,500 Crow eggs were smashed in 5 months.

Astoundingly the vacuum created by destroyed eggs was rapidly filled, whole family groups of Crows from other areas simply moved in.

Similarly, an evolution is taking place:

Crows in this Vipingo area, stressed from persecution, are breeding younger and younger, they now nest up to three times per year and six eggs in a nest is not unusual.

Think: One bird breeding three times per year x six eggs produces 18 more crows every year.

What can be done to at least curb this on-going cataclysm; when it is unsure even which Kenya Authority should take the lead?

Does this apocalyptical threat fall under Kenya Wildlife, NEMA, Agriculture or even Tourism?

Ironically, there is a fairly simple way to rid us of this deadly creature.

Poison!

In the early 1990’s a group of concerned volunteers here at the Coast starting using a poison developed in the USA for killing off their huge flocks of alien Starling birds (hence the poison’s name ‘Starlicide’.)

Starlicide kills through rupturing internal organs after being ingested … and having been digested stomach acids render the poison inert.

So even if an animal eats a dead poisoned crow it should not be harmed.

The original Poison Program was a huge success.

Dividing the Coast into areas; trays of finely chopped meat, sized to fit one beak full, were regularly left to attract multitudes of ever-hungry Crows.

When enough were regularly gathering, the now poisoned meat was laid out and strictly monitored.

Careful note was taken of roosting sites and 12 hours later teams at the roosts collected the bodies which were incinerated.

Estimates are that this 1980’s Program eliminated almost 90 per cent of Kenya Coast Crows… when the Program was abruptly stopped.

The reasons for halting at this critical stage are varied but suffice that no permits to import Starlicide were issued. (... and yet, today one can buy poison deadly enough to kill lions - and poison a whole food chain - at any rural chemist or agriculture products stockiest.)

Efforts here at the Coast to revive the Poison Program are underway.

Authorities, local and national, have already been approached but it seems the operation has been stalled by the favorite push-off; "…more study is required."

Ironically Google and elsewhere on the internet have reams of positive, university level, scientific input on, not only the Indian House Crow and the crows’ clear and present danger to the ecology, but also on the merits of Starlicide as a poison.

It is noted that a poison is today being used by Authorities in the Mweiga rice areas to kill over five million quelea birds.

What is desperately needed is Authority to take decisive steps and permit the introduction and use of an effective poison such as Starlicide and, ideally, prevail on some effective Non-Governmental Organization to assist in the logistics of a full and sustained elimination of House Crows’ Program.

The Authorities should also ask Juma at Kikambala if he was right to fear for his infant grandchild… and they should ask themselves:

"Has the Horror truly begun?"
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SEE ALSO:

2017
Those pestilential Indian House Crows and their destructive habits

2016:
Where no Crows caw: The welcome demise of 'Corvus Splendens'

             

 

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