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Environmentalists Alarmed at the Dwindling Numbers of The African Grey Cranes

As the world marks environmental conservation day, environmentalists in Kenya are alarmed at the first dwindling of the African Grey Cranes due to the continuous destruction of wetlands that are a natural habitat for rare birds.

Speaking to the press at Burgei farm in Uasin Gishu County, Dr. Joseph Mwangi of the international crane foundation and the endangered wildlife trust confirms that Kenya has only 8,000 cranes and over ninety percent of the birds are aging hence stare at extinction if measures to protect the birds are not adopted soon.

“It is sad that as I am talking there is a dwindling number of cranes where we have only 8,000 from the previous 30,000 in the late ’80s this is due to their destruction of wetlands,” said Dr. Mwangi while speaking to the press.

“If you look at the statistics Kenyans in the last thirty years we have lost over 80 percent of cranes in Kenya we used to have over 30,000 cranes where in every wetland we had a crane. In 2019 we did a census of cranes countrywide and we got 8,000 which were adults that means in the next years there will be high death rate than birth rates,“ he added.

He noted that cranes are important since they bring foreign exchange, and high economic value, thye assist in controlling pests such as aphids where they consume a lot of harmful pests a, thye are also used in logos and emblems, has a cultural value in Kalenjin where it’s a toten in one of the clans.
“Destruction of wetlands has destroyed breeding space for cranes where thye would establish their nest and lay their eggs we should therefore protect our wetlands,” he said.

Lillian Kitui field officer of the International crane foundation endangered World Life Trust, says human activities that include farming and burning of wetlands have contributed to the destruction of the wetlands that are a breeding and feeding sites for the birds, and conservation efforts are ongoing in Nandi, Uasin Gishu and Trans-Nzoia counties.

She says the oldest crane that the Country has is 36 years old and with the destruction of wetlands we will not have them in the future.

“Cranes depend on wetlands to get their feeds where they feed on small animals like frogs and insects but they are changing to eating grains which is a thing that is alarming since most of the habitat which are wetlands are destroyed,” Kitui said.

She says the destruction of wetlands was caused due to the increased population where they want lands for agriculture thus destroying wetlands.

“We have started awareness programs to farmers to ensure the population of cranes grow, our aim is to make sure that crane population increases,” she said.

Cranes in Kenyan are distributed in eleven Counties include Uasn Gishu
County, Trans-Nzoia, Bungoma, Kakamega, Vihiga, Kisumu, Homabay, Migori, Elgeyo Marakwet among others.

Timothy Busienei a prominent farmer in Tarakwa, Uasingishu county has however joined hands with the international crane foundation and the Kenya wildlife to protect the African grey cranes from destructive practices.

“Farmers are responsible for the reactions and loss of cranes because of habits of farming during the dry season where they farm on wetlands to grow vegetables, construction of dams and this activity have cost the cranes to migrate or not bread because of the disturbance of the environment,” Busienei said.

He appreciated the awareness International crane foundation endangered World Life Trust and that it should start at the community level for farmers to know the importance of conserving cranes.
Appreciate the awareness and should start at the community level where farmers can know the importance of protecting them
“The rate at which they are disappearing is wanting and our grandchildren may not have an opportunity to see them and the conservation going on might be good,” he said.



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