http://lowvelder.co.za/220462/lethal-co ... der-india/
One particular bird has emerged as a scourge the world over, taking over habitats as they go and wreaking havoc on biodiversity in the process. Now, the Indian myna has also secured a foothold in the neighbouring areas of the Kruger National Park. Yet, park management says not everything is lost yet.
Mynas were first noticed in the park by wilderness trail rangers in the Talamati, Malalane and Lower Sabie areas in 2000, says SANParks manager of alien biota, Ezekiel Khosa. Sightings have now been reported from almost across the park, from Talamati, Malalane, Lower Sabie, Satara, Biyamiti Bushcamp, Crocodile Bridge, Phalaborwa, Punda Maria and the Pafuri area. Once established, they will be near impossible to eradicate, growing in numbers and out-competing indigenous birds as time goes on. However, by destroying the birds if they are seen, management has managed to prevent this from taking place.
This bird (Acridotheres tristis) is not a foe to be taken lightly, and is listed by the Global Invasive Specialist Group as one of the world’s 100 worst alien invasive species. They are also listed as an invasive alien bird by the department of environmental affairs, along with the mallard duck, Indian house crow, the chaffinch, the hill myna and the common starling. As such, the park is legally obliged to manage the problem.
Ironically, the birds were originally invited into the country from their homelands in southern and south-eastern Asia around 1900, when they were introduced into KwaZulu-Natal in an effort to control cane beetles, garden insects and locusts. However, they soon multiplied into millions, and became pests themselves. Today, they are rife over large areas of South Africa.
The birds “greatly” affect the biodiversity of an area, in particular the birdlife, says Khosa. “Kruger National Park is no exception to this.” Among other detrimental effects, they help disperse alien plants such as Lantana camara and compete aggressively with many indigenous bird species, replacing them in some areas.
HAVE YOU SEEN A MYNA?
The myna is a medium-sized chocolate-brown bird, with a yellow beak, eye patch, feet and legs. The head, throat and tail are black, and the tail has white tips and white under-tail feathers. Large white patches in the wings are visible when the bird is in flight. Mynas are very noisy, and are often found in pairs or small groups feeding on the ground. They usually roost communally in trees or under bridges and roof eaves. Report any sightings of these birds in the Lowveld to the Kruger National Park Alien Biota Section at: Alien Biota Section, Private Bag X402, Skukuza, 1350.
You can phone +27-13-735-4114,
fax +27-13-735-4051 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Since they were first spotted in Kruger, several mynas have been destroyed, but managing the problem is an ongoing process. This includes supporting any groups that wish to prevent the spread of the birds, and conducting awareness campaigns to educate Kruger residents. As the birds prefer nesting in gaps in buildings like roofs and eaves, these are sealed off as far as possible. The birds, chicks and eggs can also be destroyed at night when they are roosting. A trap to catch them at their roosting sites is being developed, and they will consider using this if it is successful.
However, trapping would have to be part of an integrated strategy that includes the community as well as habitat restoration to favour native birds, he says. Visitors are also requested to report any sightings.
Yet, at the moment, shooting the them is the only pragmatic control method, and a number of birds have been done away with, says Khosa. He adds that SANParks has been, and will be, actively involved in the physical management of the mynas. However, due to large established colonies in neighbouring towns such as Malalane, Komatipoort, Hazyview and Phalaborwa, it will be a long haul before anyone can claim that the battle has been won. Tabs on progress are kept by the park’s conservation management committee.