By Elvis Mboya, Daily Nation
At a time hundreds of Kenyans are stuck in foreign countries because of COVID-19, a bird has flown 8,000 kilometres in five days from Kenya to China, the origin of the pandemic.
The bird that was traced using a global location sensor (GLS) departed from Kenya on April 29, crossing the Arabian Sea, the India subcontinent, The Himalayas, and finally landed in China on May 4.
Birding Beijing, a Chinese birding website, posted about it on Twitter. GLS data shows that the bird is now on its way to Russia via Mongolia.
The bird that has excited people online, is nicknamed Onon for defying the odds and its spirit of adventure in the midst of despair.
“Onon has made it! He has completed his crossing of the Arabian Sea to India and, for good measure, flown another 600km inland to Madhya Pradesh! That’s 5,000km since the last signal from Kenya on 29 April,” the tweet reads.
Migratory birds are fitted with small tracking devices called geolocators. When the bird is recaptured, the data is downloaded and used to reconstruct the bird’s migratory path.
In February, news of a migratory bird, an osprey, that flew about 7,000 kilometres from Finland to Kenya, but later died, intrigued the tourism sector.
The four-year-old osprey — a fish-eating bird — was caught by a fisherman in Lake Victoria in Siaya County, and died of dehydration and starvation, KWS officials said.
Biodiversity Atlas, an aggregator of Kenya’s biodiversity data, estimates that the country has one of the richest avifauna diversities in Africa, with around 1,100 bird species recorded.
Of these, about 800 are year-round residents, 60 are afro-tropical migrants, moving within the continent, and 170 are palaearctic migrants that journey from Eurasia each winter.
Magical Kenya, the official travel and tourism guide of the Kenya Tourism Board says that the country’s birding sector is one of the best in the world, with short birding trips recording 300 to 600 different varieties and more than 120 at a particular site on a single day.