Pied crows leaving KZN for better weather in the Cape

2015-10-19 10:22
Study suggest there is a massive decrease of crows in KZN due to climate change.

Study suggest there is a massive decrease of crows in KZN due to climate change. (Supplied)

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Pietermaritzburg - Crows are leaving KwaZulu-Natal for the fairer Cape because the weather and habitat are better, according to a study.

The study, conducted by the University of Cape Town ornithology department and published last week in the international scientific journal Diversity and Distributions, found pied crows were leaving the north-east of the country, largely as a result of climate change and better habitat in the south-western shrub lands.

Dr Arjun Amar, of Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology from UCT told The

Witness after the release of the study, that the decline in the north eastern regions of the country is due to climate warming.

The research also shows a massive increase in the pied crow population in the country compared with recent decades, but the birds were choosing the south- western regions of the country where weather was favourable for them.

“Pied crow numbers have increased significantly in the past three decades, but the rate of increase varied geographically.

“We have learned that there had been a decline in the north-east and increasing in the south-west of South Africa.

“The pied crow population changes were strongly correlated with climate change.

“Crows have benefited most from climate warming in the shrubland biomes of south-western South Africa,” he said.

In this new study, Amar said they discovered that Pied crows are tree nesters, and within these shrublands, there is a strong positive relationship between the rate of population increase and the density of powerline infrastructure, which may facilitate pied crows’ increase by providing nesting sites.

“In an environment where there are less trees, the crow will prefer to nest on the electricity powerlines because of the height,” Amar said.

Anecdotal suggestions for the recent increase in the crow population included urbanisation, increased road traffic and the expansion of powerlines and other artificial structures into treeless environments.

Amar said the weather has been changing in KZN over the years.

The report also raise public perception of these species, as it stipulate that they are “generalist predators” and there is popular concern about their “ecological impact” in areas where increases have occurred.

The study said pied crows within South Africa had a reputation as a “problem species,” however, no empirical data existed to quantify pied crow population changes or biodiversity impacts

Read more on:    kwazulu-natal  |  animals

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