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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Campaign to control invasive birds to begin next week

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The Mynahs and house crows are categorised as invasive birds. The increase in their population is causing several problems. Accordingly, the Environment Authority of Oman has decided to take measures to tackle the issue. The campaign will begin next week in Salalah.


According to reports, the Mynahs were first spotted in the Sultanate of Oman in 1982. In a recent survey, the Authority recorded 2,500 mynahs and 3,000 house crows in Dhofar between 5 to 6 pm in just one day.


The current situation has been a concern not just in the economic aspect, but also in regard to the potential diseases the birds could transmit to other birds and eventually humans.


"Currently, studies are being conducted on the behavioural patterns of these birds," said the EA's Director- General of Nature Conservation, Suleiman al Akhzami.


"The impact of the birds on health is being studied. There are teams conducting studies and surveys," he said.


The invasive birds are hostile and competitive to get food and space for nesting; they also damage local birds' nests and have been known to be a source of nuisance around the whole year. They also pose a risk to the natural food chain.


The invasive birds also have an economic and social impact, such as attacking chicks on the farm, damaging public property, farms and fields and production of dry fish.


The areas that are affected are the governorates of Dhofar, North and South Al Batinah and Muscat.


The environment in the aforementioned governorates encourages the birds to grow in population.


"We find them, especially in the coastal line, and these birds can reach the mountainous areas too, but comparatively they are fewer there," pointed out Muneera al Balushi, Ecosystem Specialist, Environment Authority.


Could there be a link between the growing population of invasive birds and the increasing waste?


"It is true; we can say that the accumulation of waste comes from different sources. It can be from the houses or manufacturers in the area. Most of the waste we have come across is from commercial areas such as restaurants, and the urban areas are the main producers of waste. As well as ports where fishing brings a great amount of waste," explained Muneera.


The Authority is using a variety of methods to control the population.


"We have been researching and learning from other countries' experiences. They have been using certain methods successfully. We have come up with four solutions - traps, gentle chemicals and methods to affect the nests as well as making small holes in the eggs," explained Muneera.


Mynahs like to make their nests on trees, buildings, grooves and holes, as well as in agricultural areas, especially on the date palm trees and neem trees. House crows, meanwhile, prefer making their nests on the 'ghaf' trees.


The birds have been damaging crops, especially dates and fruits. They have been affecting the papayas and mangoes in Dhofar. Crows and mynahs are attracted to colours; because of this, in some of the traps, the Authority uses watermelons and papayas to attract them.


@lakshmioman


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