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.
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.