The 5 Papyrus Endemic Birds of Yala Swamp Kenya

The Yala Swamp is a designated an IBA no 42 hosting a number of endemic species. Yala Swamp is a biodiversity hotpot offering unique fauna that attract specific birds. The swamp is inhabited by range of water vegetation namely; a papyrus reed, Yala Swamp ecosystem and biodiversity services include cultural services such as the Aesthetic values, recreational etc. The regulatory services are done through carbon storage and water infiltration by the papyrus reeds and other water vegetation, pollination control, water purification, waste treatment, flooding among others. For tourists, it’s the home to the rare Sitatunga Antelope.

Definition of Endemic
Endemic species are fauna and flora restricted to a particular geographic location. They could be spread to a larger area or confined in a smaller habitat. Birds found in a particular habitat and can’t be found elsewhere are said to be endemic to that habitat. The endemic birds feed, breeds, roosts and die in the restricted region. Birds are uniquely adapted to the locality through restriction or are favored by the climatic conditions of the area. Endemism could have been as a result of autochthonous, birds evolving and adapting to a particular environment. The second method through which birds became endemic was as a result of introduction by settlers, missionaries, ships to other regions. The introduced birds become native to the new habitat, adapting and reproducing (Environmental Encyclopedia). Birdlife international helps in identification of Important/Endemic Bird Areas (EBA/IBA). The word endemic also refers to those birds residing in one particular region or country, and their survival is threatened due to their limited habitat (National Geographic). It’s documented that 93% of the world’s endemic bird species are supported by EBA.

Papyrus Gonolek source youtube CC

Endemic Birds of Yala Swamp

Papyrus Gonolek Laniarius mufumbiri

Found in western part of Kenya, it weighs 45g with the length measuring 7 inches. Among the papyrus species, the bird is restricted to the papyrus Cyperus papyrus species. It has a dull yellow crown. The bird has a black head, under parts and tails with spotted white mark on the wings. It’s rarely spotted, and always flying in pairs in the papyrus vegetation, The Gonolek either sing or call in a due ting tone, when one call the other responds too. The birds’ food consists of the ants, beetles and other small insects and breeds in the month of June – December. It’s listed in the IUCN Red List (Red Data List) of threatened species. In Kenya, its habitat is being encroached, people burning papyrus for cultivation, government turning the swamp into a farmland and investors using chemicals to control pest and insects affecting the bird.

The Papyrus Yellow warbler Chloropeta gracilirostris
Papyrus flycatcher-warbler, an endemic bird found in the papyrus beds of the Yala Swamp, its measures 13-14 cm and has a bright yellow underbelly with an olive brown upper part. The bird feed on small and tiny insects.

The Carruthers’s Cisticola Cisticola carruthersi
The tail flicking bird is endemic to the Yala wetland, a small bird measuring about 10 cm long with the brown plumage. Its breeds during the rainy month of April and July laying up to four eggs.

Papyrus Canary Crithagra koliensis
It measures between 10 -11.5 cm, and weighs about 11-16g with a short bill. The males have green color with darker streaky forehead. The Canary is restricted to papyrus vegetation and feeds on the papyrus and other vegetation seeds. In breeding season during the month of May –August and it’s the responsibility of the female to build a nest to lay its eggs.

White winged warbler Xenoligea montana
It’s about 13-14cm long with a life span estimated to be between three to six years. The bird’s ramp and upper part are olive green in color with a dark grey head. The bird feeds on tiny insects, seeds and arthropods.

Wildebeest Migration Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya

The wild beast migration is one of the worlds mesmerising wonders as it holds unknown phenomenon. The wild beast migration is mostly manipulated by the appearance of long rains and growth of green pastures. Migration during the dry season may vary and become delayed as the rains may delay. This is because they cannot move to another place unless they are sure the rains have fallen. This is one of their traits and it baffles anyone who pays attention to this group of animals.
During the end of the rainy season they immediately move to wetter areas. This ensures they have a steady supply of food and water. They repeat this cycle during their lifetime and also the off springs inherit the paths from their mothers. They move in large numbers due to their decreased density in their environs hence all follow the majority group, lack of fresh water due to the changes in weather and the risk of predation.

Wildbeast migration in masai Mara national reserve to Serengeti National Park in Tanzania

The migration begins in the Ngorongoro area of the southern Serengeti located in the northern side of Tanzania. This is where they spend the early months of the year since at this time the rainfall in Kenya is low. The first phase is the calving which happens in February with over five hundred calves being given birth. After they are strong enough to move, they start the journey towards the North West as they search for more food and water. The calves mature along the way with many falling to predators while others die of natural causes.
On July or August they start arriving at Masai Mara where there is adequate food. This is they stay most of the year until it starts raining in Serengeti. In case the rains delay, they may arrive on October. Since the routes are long they definitely encounter many problems along the way. This may include predators such as the lion, hyena, cheetahs and the crocodiles while crossing the Mara River.
Crossing Mara River is the greatest problem for the wild beasts. This is because the river has strong water currents, vicious and hungry crocodiles. They struggle to cross the river while some fall to the sharp teeth of the predators.
The ones that cross the river successfully continue with their way of life. They repeat this cycle year after year bringing new life to any place they visit just like those before them did.