Soil Conditions in the Suspected Quelea Bird Feeding Sites of the Magadi Area (Kajiado District)

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Engelen V.W.P
Okoth P.F
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Ministry of Agriculture
The FAO Regional Project for Bird Control in East Africa (RAF 81/023) is trying to control the damaging effect of the Quelea birds on grain crops, mainly wheat and sorghum. Not enough information on the behaviour of these birds (breeding sites, feeding areas, etc.) was known and therefore a consultancy on phyto-ecology (TCP/RAF/440l) was called in. Information collected by the FAO project indicated that birds were observed feeding in areas with annual grasscover in the southern part of the Rift Valley in Kenya. Some soils information on these areas, needed to characterize the breeding environment of the Que1ea birds, could only be extracted from a small scale map. More detailed soil data were needed and Kenya Soil Survey was requested to carry out soil' investigations in some of the suspected feeding sites of the birds in the Magadi area. Emphasis would be laid on physical aspects of the soils (texture, moisture holding characteristics, erosional features), which could enlighten the relation between vegetation, in particular annual grasses - the mainstay of the diet of the birds, and soils.