Ondangwa is afraid of birds

16 July 2020 | Environment

ILENI NANDJATO

ONDANGWA



The Ondangwa town council is afraid that a large group of cattle egrets converging at a park in town might be dangerous to people.

The town has approached the ministry of environment and tourism to help them get rid of the estimated 30 000 birds, but the ministry refused, saying the birds might be a tourist attraction.

The town council objected to the ministry's decision, saying that they cannot risk the health of the residents in the name of tourism.



Not comfortable

Ondangwa mayor Paavo Amwele said they are “not comfortable” living in a town with such a large population of birds.

He said they are afraid the birds might carry diseases.

“We have a problem with these birds because their population is high and they are in the town centre. The place which they occupy is a recreation place and it is also within residential areas. The birds make excessive noise and make the place dirty, making residents around that place to be uncomfortable,” Amwele said.

“We wrote to the ministry of environment to assist us relocate the birds or get them tested for any possible diseases. We had a meeting with Minister Pohamba Shifeta who told us that they are a possible tourist attraction opportunity.”

Rare occurrence

Shifeta said he was amazed to see these birds in Ondangwa, and it might be the only town in southern Africa to have a population of these birds.

“It is very strange that we have a large population of this bird converge at one place in town. The town council has been writing letters complaining about them. I thought they were talking about a few birds but when I visited the town, I was amazed to see such a large number of these birds. Ondangwa is the only place in southern Africa where one can find these birds in a residential area.

“The town council wants to get rid of them, but we do not see them as a problem, but a solution. The town can use them to attract more tourists to the town and the recreation area where they converge can be an international recreational area.”

Shifeta said the town and the ministry need to conduct research on what has attracted the birds to the area and how to protect them.

Amwele insisted that people might start leaving the town because they are not comfortable living with birds.



Benefit to the area

Shifeta said the birds might help to eradicate pests in the crop-farming area around Ondangwa.

“When worms and other pests destroy our crops we complain, and now that we have these birds we are complaining again. Everything in the ecosystem is essential and depends on how we treat it,” he said.

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