Some of the students that I teach come from all over the world. One of my former students is from Tanzania, Revocatus Meza. He recently wrote this very interesting piece for the DailyNews. I am reposting here with permission. It is called, “Bird Watching: Why Wonders Never Cease“.
BIRD WATCHING: WONDERS WILL NEVER CEASE
By Revocatus Meza, recently in Mpanda, Katavi.
“We call them nests. They call them houses. I call them hanging houses.” One would admire birds’ creativity by seeing them busy flying to and fro bringing food to their young or carrying leaves for building their settlement. The exercise is done happily accompanied with songs, although unknown to human beings.
The nests’ weaving is done when the rainy season ends. For their security purposes, birds prefer making their houses on the towering and thorny trees, “migunga and mibombo” in particular, staying away from snakes, firebugs and predators.
I recently dashed to my home village and had had hardly 12 hour-stay for accomplishing my entire mission: taming the issues took me there plus visiting relatives and friends. With all these in itinerary, I also had an opportunity for birding.
I opted for being a bird watcher rather than spending time on famous sandy, gravel or rocky beaches of the Lake Tanganyika. The decision came to be a breath away experience watching different species of bird at this one of the communities on the lakeshore, Isengule, Mpanda in Katavi region of the western Tanzania.
It was an eventful scenario of birding occurred simultaneously with enjoying watching the April blooming natural flowers at the foot of Shukula hills which serves as the haven to bird species.
One of the exciting story-telling on bird species found in this rural community is a female and male bird locally known as “Lwiha”.
Wonders will never cease:
While the female bird “Lwiha” which once a year lays two eggs for a female and male young, eventually would be a pair.
Nevertheless, the male one is there to give you a surprise. Its appearance and name change depending on the annual seasons.
Locals have it that they both have on in yellowish brown color during the dry season: July to November of the year and bear the same name “Lwiha.”
Mysteriously, the male one rhythmically removes off its feathers as the rainy seasons begin. It takes the beautiful and colorful new feathers: black and red. At this point, the natives call this male bird”Kijugwe”. The strange transformation of its kind occurs from December to May.
When to go:
March to June is the best time for birding. It is the time when artisan farmers haven’t started setting fire dry leaves in preparation for land tilling.
How to get there:
Isengule village is on the Lakeshore on Lake Tanganyika, Ikola ward, Karema division, Mpanda Disctrict in Katavi Region (formerly Rukwa). It can be reached by road via Mpanda, or ship: Mv. Liemba from Kigoma, Tanzania or Mpulungu, Zambia.
Tip for Sightseeing
The site seer would have a half an hour walk going north east off Isengule village or hire a motorcycle ”bodaboda” to the foot of Shukula hills.
These hill ranges offer the opportunity to experience the natural beauty surrounding them; especially with blooming flower species. The blossom decorates the foot of the hills such that they look alike the well attended gardens by horticulturalists.
Conversely, the truth is that scenic floras grow on naturally; no one attends them. On the one hand, the natural beauty is endangered to desert by herders living close to these hills through grazing around, and on the other, fire raisers destruct the environments when preparing for their farms.
By the way, local authorities should invest much on educating people on the importance of protecting the natural beauty of this forest s for the sustainability of the ecosystem. If this is to be seriously observed, it would obviously tap the opportunity for ecotourism.
The ecotype of Shukula hills is a worthwhile attractive recreational area for holiday makers: bird watchers and botanic admirers. It is thus far a potential money spinner for villagers.
My visit was awarding by giving me a value for time spent: education, recreation and relaxation. Hence, Isengule village has a lot to offer and makes one smile; from watching the creativity of birds making their beautiful hanging houses-nests to admiring natural garden. You have to be there to believe. I am the witness of all these worth saying: Been there. Done that!
Contacts: email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Mob: +255 756 170 610
Meza is an Assistant Lecturer at Teofilo Kisanji University (TEKU) Mbeya, Tanzania. Prospect PhD candidate at Leipzig University in Germany. He received his Bachelor of Divinity (B.D, 2002) (Mbeya,Tanzania), Masters of Arts in Theological Studies from Moravian Theological Seminary (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S.A, 2007), and his Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE, 2011),