Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 0925790
The project site is in wetsern Tanzania, mainly in Malagarasi-Moyowosi Ramsar Site where detailed study on habitat selection of the shoebill is ongoing. The research team wade the swamp using dugout traditinal canoe when it is difficult or impossible to wade due to dense floating vegetation. Although the main focus is on shoebill Balaeniceps rex, the team also research on another threatened wetland bird in the area, the Wattled Crane. Both birds are threatened and their numbers in Tanzania are very small, they are in low hundreds (Beilfuss et al 2005, BirdLife International 2011). The team search for nests and birds, once located parameters such as water depths, vegetation heights, distance from nearest human activity and settlements, size of the nests, concealements are all recorded. The fate of the nests is monitored. We have also surveyed the extreme northwestern tanzania, Kagera Region (formerly West Lake Region, Lake Victoria). Based on the extent of the available swamps, previous report estimated that about 100 birds (shoebill) were surving there, but our recent survey failed to confirm this speculation. We found that suitable habitats are unavailable as most riverine swamps were either cultivated or occupied by dense-tall monotypic plant, the papyrus Cyperus papyrus. Dense papyrus are unsuitable for fishing and could also obstruct shoebill take off. There was no good swamps along the Lake Victoria shorelines to support shoebill either although one record is known there. People in Kagera region except the fishermen in "Ngono River" had no knowledge of the shoebill, indicating that the bird has not been common there.
Project 0925790 location - Tanzania, Africa