ABUNDANCE, MOVEMENT AND HOME RANGE OF SHARPE’S LONGCLAW IN MONTANE GRASSLANDS IN TIMAU, KENYA
Sharpe’s Longclaw (SLC) is an endangered and endemic bird that is threatened by rapid reduction in the extent and quality of its habitat. It has a very small and highly fragmented range within the agricultural landscapes. This study was conducted in Timau montane grasslands from January to June 2016. Seven individuals were equipped with lightweight pulse transmitters and their movement monitored using hand held VHF-radio signal antennae. Using radio telemetry, flush and count method and geographic information techniques, we determined population abundances and densities, investigated the movement patterns of SLC and compared the home range sizes in short grass with dense tussocks (SGWDT) and Tall Grass (TG). Results showed mean density of SLC was significantly higher (p<0.05) in the short grass (2.00±0.06 birds/ha) than in the tall grass (1.04±0.07 birds/ha). This coincides other studies that reported Sharpe’s Longclaw showing a strong preference for areas of short grass with dense tussocks. Radio-tracking periods ranged from 11 to 14 days, with a total of 92 SLC days across all SLC and a mean of 13.14 days (SD = 1.21 days). SLC had average consecutive daily movement distance of 1350 m/day, ranging from 1084.77m for individual SLC930 to 1917.57m for SLC791. There was a significance difference in mean Consecutive Daily Movement Distance of the SLC in meters (Kruskal-Wallis test = 22.44, p<0.05). This study agrees with others that allude SLC as highly sedentary and only move short distances. Average minimum convex polygon (MCP) home range (MCP95) and core area (MCP50) sizes for all SLC were 4.45 hectares (SD = 3.10, N = 7) and 1.09 hectares (SD = 0.86, N = 7) respectively. The research findings differed with other studies done in fragmented grasslands of Kinangop where home ranges of SLC ranged from 0.82 to 1.506 hectares. There was a total mean overlap of 31.8%% among three individuals (χ2 = 5.62, df = 2, p>0.05). The research recommended that surveys in and around Marania farm be carried out to determine extent of population distribution of Sharpe’s Longclaw suitable habitat, and be recognised as Important Bird Areas (IBAs). Further studies should focus on the intensity of grazing that is compatible with SLC conservation.
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