Share this with Africa

A new survey has detected “shocking” declines in the populations of 22 species of eagle, vulture, buzzard, falcon and other birds of prey in Kenya — and roads, railways and rat poison have all played a part.

Populations of 19 out of 22 Kenyan birds of prey species had declined by 70 percent on average in just 40 years, the survey published in the journal Biological Conservation said, with one species — the common kestrel — having declined by 95 percent.

Birds of prey play a key role in keeping down rats and other pests and vultures dispose of animal carcasses that can harbour deadly diseases. But being at the top of the food chain makes them highly sensitive to human impacts on the environment.

In Kenya, the development of roads, railways and power lines have fragmented many ecosystems, while deforestation, intensive agriculture and overgrazing have left “a biologically impoverished landscape,” the study says.

Declines were recorded among vulture and large eagle species, and were especially noticeable among once-common small and medium-sized raptors like augur buzzards and black-winged kites, the survey found. No species had increased significantly.

Read or Listen to this story on the RFI website.