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IN THE WILD: Sight and sounds of Burigi-Chato National Park

LOCATED on the western shore of Lake V ictoria, Kagera Region is endowed with tropical weather because it is not very far from the Equator and laying at an elevation of 1,231 meters above sea level.

The two factors play a big role that contribute into the ex istence of a favorable environment for birds.

Mammals and reptiles thrive in this place where the Earth is divided into two pieces. In the spiritual world the position of Kagera region has more than what everyone knows because the region has been the center of one of the oldest festival in the whole world where strength, morphology and outlook of an individual has more meaning than size and other features.

On the other side physiologists say beauty is a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object, or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure or satisfaction to different people.

In Kagera it is where one of the oldest gorgeousness matches among crown cranes taking place in the middle of the tropical savannah plains of Burigi Chato national park. History tells us that avian evolved on the Earth more than 160 million years ago but fossils records show that the main family was divided into smaller groups about 6 6 million years ago.

Those were the days of the volatile Jurassic period which was dominated by dramatic changes of earth’s surface and its ancient vegetation. That was the time when a big part of the world was engulfed by a rise of temperature due to endless powerful volcanic activities which produced big amount of magma and carbon dioxide.

This situation resulted into high rainfall in some parts of the world which led to the rise of sea level and emerging new water bodies including lakes, swamps and other wetlands. The condition enabled the evolution of a birdlike dinosaur about 125 million years ago which 85 million years ago evolved into a true bird, while being faced with different natural calamities. The bird grandparents of modern birds, these included the earliest cranes which are believed to migrate into wetlands of the earth more than 10,000 years ago.

The larger crane family is made by more than 14 species which were forced to develop different new methods to overcome challenges in a new and fast changing environment, among cranes and other birds. Breeding is one of main aspects affected by climatic and geographical changes because laying of eggs need enough energy and heat. To overcome that difficult situation and avoid going into a miserable extinction.

The grandparents of crown cranes developed a uniq ue ritualized beauty contest which encouraged breeding. From the main street of Dar es salaam to the heart of savannah in national park such as Burigi Chato national park, the art of dancing involve rhythmical movement of body or part of it. This is done in response of beats or sound from a musical instrument or from a tone of songs which the dancers are singing or played by a music player.

In the savannah animals do not play guitar but during breeding season a flock of more than 45 crown cranes may congregate in a selected area to form a special choir. Scientists say crown cranes are known by producing graceful booming sound from their red gular sacs which are inflated with air to produce strong beat that bring every member into a dancing ground. As the beats get hot every crown crane embarks on a jumping and bowing rhythmical movements which produce enough beats to entertain every dancer in the ground.

As if these are not enough, at the highest stage of their dance a honking sound is produced by male members to force some idle females to get into the dancing ground. These birds are good musicians as some crown cranes are known to produce a trumpet sound which invite j uveniles to the dancing ground and lay foundation of knowledge for future generations.

Like any other savannah, the plains of Burigi Chato national park is full of different challenges so whenever time allows, crown cranes come together to sing and dance with intension of reducing tension, improving their health while strengthening the union.

During these dancing events male display their strength while female crown cranes show their beauty which colours the dancing ground and add value to the savannah. It is being said that up to 150 birds from different part of a national park may attend the ritualized because it opens chance for bachelor males to see and come closer with new females in their area.

On the other side both sex respect and like the event because skills which are obtained and developed from the dance are useful in their entire life. Due to the above mention factors the philosophy of winning a beauty contest in the savannah does not need recognition or appreciation from every animal.

This is because felines, reptilians and even other members of the avian family do not even participate in the event or like it let alone watching one of the oldest beauty pageant on earth because history shows that although competition for beauty among women ex isted even before modern civilization but the real pageant took place in America about 110 years ago.

That was the time when western civilization was starting to spread to different parts of the world while in Burigi Chato national parks and Rubondo national park it was a common occurrence which involve crown cranes who were organizing beauty pageant from 6 6 million years ago. Scientists say dancing is an act which is capable of changing attitude from the level of an individual to the big number of those who feel the rhythms of the song into their blood vessels as their bodies come under a strong influence of well arranged melody voice or beats which also goes systematically to entertain the dancer.

This can be clearly seen in Burigi Chato national park where a strong male Kori bustard will make a special sexual inviting boom sound which awake female birds from their nestles be located 100 meters apart then all adult birds will walk to an open grassland area where not less than 100 birds of both sex will congregate for a dancing competition. Throughout the region which has strong culture, from Kihanja, Karagwe, Kiziba, Misenye, Bugabo, Kyamtwara, Ihangiro, Bukara and Biharamulo the word beauty has strong influence with different communities meanwhile. Just like Chagulaga traditional dance among the Sukuma people of Chato, inside the newly opened national park with the heaviest bodies among flying birds one male Kori bustard will show himself by dancing before 25 to 40 females whereby he inflate his throat with air and erect his head and twist its 39.5 cm long tail feathers while walking majestically in a slow motion. Then eight to ten beautiful female Kori bustard fall in love and allow him to bread with both of them.

Tandawala is the Swahili name for kori bustard while Korongo taji is used for crown crane. These two species are joined by hundreds of other reresidential and migratory birds who congregate to enjoy their time in Burigi Chato national park which covers more than 2,200 square kilometers, with its name being taken from lake Burigi a word in local language which is pronounced “Urigi”, this is a very attractive sight with elongated shape which provide good environment for these and other birds to thrive.

rstanslaus@yahoo.com

ON Thursday this week, Pope ...

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Author: Reginald Matillya

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