Kenya, a country only the size of Texas, has one of the richest avifaunas in Africa. In the past, birdwatchers in Kenya could find birds and interpret the significance of field observations only by reading ‘A Bird Book of Kenya’ written by Adrian Lewis, which recorded 1,065 species of birds in the country though most data were pretty outdated and recorded 30 years ago. Since Kenya’s climatic and habitat conditions have changed over the years, birdwatchers need a new mapping tool to find out bird species’ distribution, which is essential and fundamental information for conservation work.
The Kenya Bird Map project was launched in 2014. It is a joint initiative by A Rocha Kenya, an international Christian conservation organisation, and the National Museums of Kenya, Tropical Biology Association, NatureKenya and the Animal Demography Unit of the University of Cape Town. The bird map project aims to map all of Kenya’s bird species and describe their status with the help of valued input from citizen scientists – volunteer members of the public who are keen to contribute through going birding and submitting their observations to the project.
It consists of a coverage map that enables birdwatchers to see actual on-the-ground coverage of the project on a pentad scale, a 5 minute x 5 minute coordinate grid super-imposed over the continent for spatial reference. By clicking on the one of the pentads, a small ‘bubble’ will open with the link to the pentad’s summary page that includes a species list and birds found in that particular area, the observer lists and the date the submission was recorded (known as ‘the protocol cards’).
The mapping tool also uses the GAP Analysis that allows birdwatchers to get a broad idea of which parts of the region have been covered to some extent. The Bird Map Project combines a lot of birding, innovative technology and communication to produce dependable results that can be used to take real action for conservation. To date, 20 observers have contributed to the bird map with more than 4,000 birds species recorded.
In the meantime, the website is still being completed to allow the capture of data and to show species maps in real time. Observers can already register and field work has begun.
See more at: arocha.org