Art. # 184
PROUD WINNER: BIRD OF THE YEAR 2014
Text by Stefan Rust
Photos by Stefan Rust and Birgit Leicher
(In terms of the Geneva Convention the copyright of synthesis texts belong to Stefan Rust)
Male of the Kori Bustard Ardeotis kori kori
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Name : Ardeotis kori kori ( Latin ) / Kori Bustard ( English ) / Gompou ( Afrikaans )
Family: Bustards - Otidae
Distribution: Africa, East and South
Habitat: Dry, flat and hilly grasslands
Size: Males 135 cm, females 113 cm
Plumage: They act fairly nondescript grey and brown.
Voice: The males during the mating season bring forth dull dark calls.
Nest: A simple, sparsely padded hollow on ground.
Breeding season: October to February
Food: Berries, seeds, and small animals.
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Flagship for the conservation of savannas
On the Common Ostrich as the bird of the year 2013, for the first time introduced in Namibia, follows this year the much smaller Kori Bustard (Ardeotis kori kori). And in contrast to the frequent Ostrich, a few thousand, the existence of the Kori Bustard in Namibia looks quite a bit different. Although Namibia and Botswana in southern Africa are still considered as strongholds of this species, you will encounter them mainly in protected areas. In Namibia in the Etosha National Park with a size of 22 912 square kilometers, live about 1000-2000 birds of its kind. In Southern Africa, the Kori Bustard is already declared as an endangered species.
That the Kori Bustard mainly lives in protected areas in Namibia is particularly associated with the loss of their habitat. This testimony frightens, because in Namibia one found and still finds outside of protected areas many and large areas that meet their habitat requirements. Extensive areas with grass growth were more than 1000 years ago and are still today destroyed due to unfavorable management controls. Grass growth is at a disadvantage leading to bush growth promotion and thus large areas of the habitat of this beautiful Kori Bustard disappeared - a process that still continues intensively. Bush encroachment in southern Africa refers to the process fostered by the people of the spread of shrubs and trees in savannas. Through unnatural soil management and grazing of the grass savannas the grass cover becomes suppressed and thus the competitor of the bushes and trees is removed and nothing stands in the way of an unbridled growth and thorn savannah replaced the original grass savannas. BirdsConTour supplies reasonable middle courses between use of nature and its protection.
Added to this is that Kori Bustard’s are with a maximum size of 130 cm and a weight depending on sex, 6-19 kg, one of the heaviest flying birds, very shy birds that require a great escape distance and therefore are very sensitive to disturbances. In Namibia, not different than in other areas of our planet, the ever- multiplying population confronts the nature with serious challenges. Also in Namibia, tourism has changed in recent years , more and more operators discover this paradise and every company would like to offer their customers more than the competition, therefore it is important to maintain a sustainable tourism. It applies to all people involved in tourism and conservation to ensure that everyone adheres to the rules of the game, that the tour operators go only where it is allowed, that the necessary distance to these shy birds (animals in general) will be considered and that vehicles are exited only in approved and designated places. Our goal is to commit us to the lesson of quality tourism, human and animal collectively. Otherwise the alternative is: either the animals or we (humans).
To future wise keep the stock of this species, belonging the order of the cranes (Gruiformes) in the family of bustards ( Otididae ) and in Namibia not yet classified as an endangered species, stable, the course must be set today. To draw attention to the protection, preservation and the reconquest of original grass savannas, BirdsConTour has chosen the Kori Bustard as the Bird of the Year 2014 Namibia, and at the same time as a symbol and flagship for this.
Female of the Kori Bustard Ardeotis kori kori
This largest species of the bustard family is for the open vastness of Namibia that, what cranes in the marsh areas of Germany are: long-lived birds of an ancient lineage that reach a considerable size and considerable weight, yet are still airworthy. Among the birds, this means an expression of a detailed adaptation to stable environments. Especially because of this adaptation they are sadly, as the cranes, among the first to suffer when humans disturb their habitats.
Like almost all other bustard species is the Kori Bustard long-necked and long-legged with a robust body. Unlike most birds it has neither a hind or a preen gland. Probably these savings, just like the camouflage, are adaptations to the dry open landscape in which they live. Hind toes are needed by birds sitting on trees and the oil from the preen gland is used for the impregnation of the plumage. As a slow, nervous and attentive runner she hides at the first sign of danger in the cover or it flies surprisingly fast with deep, powerful wing beats.
The Bustard has developed within Africa in two separate areas: the Zambezi south-west to the Cape, which is treated here as the Kori Bustard Ardeotis kori kori and from the Nile to the Horn of Africa, the Kori Bustard Ardeotis kori struthiunculus.
Their diet consists of invertebrates, small vertebrates and insects such as grasshoppers, which are usually picked on the ground or from plants. Some of them gather at swarms of locusts or fire to catch fleeing animals. They also eat plant food, especially gum from acacia trees. From this habit originates the Afrikaans name "Gompou" (Klebepfau). In earlier days tree gum was used for the preparation of adhesive (gom). Most of their required liquid is ingested through food, but if this is not enough, they also drink water. It is one of the few birds that, like doves, sandgrouse and quails suck water instead of scooping water with their beak and then raising their head to swallow it.
The males of the Kori Bustard place remarkably spectacular courtship displays on the day. He blows his neck up like a balloon, placing his tail forward over the back and stretches his wings down. With this transformed posture with the almost exclusively white appearing neck, the male is seen over a large distance and attracts receptive females.
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