The Beautiful Birds of Sagalla

By Ursulla Wandili 


There is no need for an alarm at Elephant and Bees center, Sagalla in Voi. We have our natural alarms-the beautiful birds. Imagine how satisfying it is to be woken up every morning by rhythmical acoustic voices of birds. Birds are often up before dawn singing their hearts out and adding their voices to the dawn chorus. It is so fascinating to listen to different songs, written by different artists, chirps of all lengths and volumes echoing back and forth to each other in a canopy chorus telling us stories every morning. Those choruses gives me power to start a day full of energy and determination knowing my day is going to be fruitful. Birds are charming.

I love birds. I don’t know about you, but I have a very deep connection with birds.


Video 1. Common call within STE E & B research Center.

Every morning during weekdays, I used to crawl out of my tent, put on my walking clothes and take my best two friends (Winky and Tsavo) without forgetting my Birding Guide book for a walk. In other words, I go birding. At most times when my time is limited, I used to stick at the Kitchen for about 20 minutes identifying and recording bird species. There, the most numerous birds, in increasing order are Slate-coloured boubou, Black-necked weaver, Grey-headed sparrow, House sparrows, White-barrowed sparrow weaver, Spotted morning thrush, Yellow fainted bulbul/common bulbul, speckled mouse bird,  Red winged Starling, spotted fly catcher, Red-billed fire finch and red-cheeked cordon blue. Those are my regulars. Their playful nature, feeding and singing help unwind a busy day from the field and desktop work.

Slate-colored BouBou. Photo by Ursulla Wandili. 


Namaqua Dove. Photo by Michael Klotz.


In the woods within the camp, we have interesting and beautiful birds. I used to visit those sides at dusk during weekdays and dawn during weekends. A warm welcome from the most attractive, beautiful bright colored Lilac Breasted Roller is alluring.  I consider the other side of the camp my patch. It has intertwined twigs, lots of trees, undisturbed environment suitable and safe for shy forest birds. In the past weeks I had a great look at Warblers, Plovers, Barbets, grenadier, Sunbirds, Go away birds, Doves, Cuckoo, Swifts, Greenbul, Bee eaters, Robin and Robin chats. I can count on yellow-throated woodland warbler, who are active and noisy, black headed apalis, chipping sparrows, a resident wood thrush who serenades me daily. The last weeks I kept hearing a soft crescendo then decrescendo p-p-p-p-p but I never spotted whose song that was. Oops.

Lilac breasted Roller. Photo by Michael Klotz.


Eastern Double – collared sunbird. Photo by Michael Klotz.


When you hear Low rolling, hollow (CROO-DOO-DOO-DOO-DOO) chuckling call that is reminiscent of the human laughter, what comes in your mind as a birder? Laughing dove. The call is super calming and interesting to listen to. Within the campsite, over 70 species of birds have been recorded. This is a huge number, an emphasis of the importance of that ecosystem.


Average bird counts in a day within Save the Elephant E & B Research Center.


Humans tend to imitate birds calls, we enjoy watching them flying, we enjoy boom harvests from our farms, we enjoy cash from tourism, we enjoy birds flesh, but we forget to conserve them. Instead, we play a huge role in destroying their habitats without knowing Birds play bigger roles in our ecosystems. Can we imagine a world without birds? The benefits birds bring us aren’t just cultural but they play an essential role in the functioning of the world’s ecosystem, in a way that directly impacts human health, economy and food production as well as millions of other species.

It is beyond doubt that Sagalla is a critically important area for conservation, due to its high degree of biological uniqueness. As humans, it’s our obligation to conserve environment for betterment of this vulnerable species that depend on a good environment for survival. Let’s embrace sustainable forest use, reforestation of cleared areas to restore degraded lands, and local community outreach to discuss the benefits of conserving the remaining natural habitats. Adopting such an integrated conservation strategy will ensure that we will live in harmony with nature where mankind thrives while nature is protected and sustainably utilized.

There is no better place than Sagalla for nature enthusiasts, scholars, and tourists to visit, work and support amazing conservation work. A place you can be woken up by beautiful and playful birds endemic to this region.




The views, opinions and position expressed in this article belong solely to the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the policy and position of Save the Elephants


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