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Population Status and Trend of the Maasai Ostrich in the Mid Kenya—Tanzania Borderland

DOI: 10.4236/nr.2016.710047, PP. 558-579

Keywords: Borderland, Kenya, Maasai Ostrich, Population Trend and Status, Tanzania

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Abstract:

The Maasai ostrich (Struthio camelus) is a the largest avian species in East Africa and though it’s not considered to be a species of conservation concern, some populations are on the decline and this is attributed to bush meat activities, predation on their eggs illegal consumption by humans, habitat destruction and forage competition with other large wildlife species. Climate change is also emerging to be another major threat due to interference with food availability which in turn interferes with the breeding rhythm. Thus, this study examined the population status, trend and distribution of the Maasai ostrich in the Southern Kenya and Northern Tanzania borderland after the 2007 to 2009 drought. The results showed that the species was found across the entire borderland but the Amboseli region had the highest number and density of Maasai ostrich (726.00 ± 100.9; 0.08 ± 0.01 ostriches per km2), followed by Lake Natron area (330.8 ± 69.8; 0.05 ± 0.01 ostriches per km2) and the least was in West Kilimanjaro (85.5 ± 18.0; 0.03 ± 0.01 ostriches per km2). Drought caused a decline in the population of the Maasai ostrich but the Amboseli area experienced the highest decline in density (?13.44 ± 12.61) compared to other borderland sectors. However, the populations increased in most sectors after the drought, and wet season numbers and densities were higher than the dry season. The highest positive increase in number and density was in Lake Natron area (+85.65 ± 91.06) followed by West Kilimanjaro (+68.39 ± 59.54), and the least was in the Magadi area (+22.26 ± 32.05). There is a need to enhance conservation of avian species like the Maasai ostrich other than just focusing on the charismatic species such as the African elephant and black rhino. We therefore recommend joint collaboration in monitoring all large wildlife populations across the Kenya-Tanzania borderland with a view of understanding their status, trend and best management actions that can enhance their conservation.

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