When birds are fed on a regular basis, ingenuity is often needed as manufactured bird tables are not generally available, especially in Tanzania, where there is a far smaller European and Asian population than in neighbouring Kenya.
As in Britain, attracting and feeding birds in Tanzania brings with it problems, especially pests (ranging from rodents and mongooses to snakes) and the constant challenge of keeping the area clean and hygienic – although the hot tropical sun helps to destroy some bacteria and viruses. A novel approach to bird feeding was observed in Tanzania by Haith’s Veterinary Advisor Professor John E Cooper FRCVS and his daughter Vanessa on their visit to the country in early October. They stayed in Usa River near Arusha at the home of Mrs Jules Knocker who, with her husband, runs The Map’s Edge Ltd, a well-known specialist Tour Operating Company with the delightful strapline of Dream ¬ Escape ¬ Explore (see: www.maps-edge.com). The Knockers’ house overlooks the majestic Mount Meru and their garden is frequently visited by warthogs, antelope and elephants that come in from neighbouring Arusha National Park.
The Knockers use a locally made structure (see Figure 1) and this, very conveniently, serves two purposes - to feed birds by day and to provide extra rations for bushbabies at night.
The system works well and the food provided suits all-comers as it consists largely of local fruit, supplemented by live mealworms which are bred on the premises, again in a container made from local materials and with a trap to help exclude invertebrate pests and predators (see Figure 2).
John, Margaret and Vanessa Cooper