White Stork

The plumage is mainly white, with black on its wings. Adults have long red legs and long pointed red beaks, and measure on average 100–115 cm from beak tip to end of tail, with a 155–215 cm wingspan. The white stork is a long-distance migrant, wintering in Africa from tropical Sub-Saharan Africa to as far south as South Africa, or on the Indian subcontinent. The white stork eats a wide range of animal prey, including insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals and small birds. It takes most of its food from the ground, among low vegetation, and from shallow water. 

Source : Wikipedia

Most of the white storks that occur in Africa are migrants from Europe and western Asia. It has been documented that about 400, 000 white storks pass through East Africa (Gichuki et al., 1999) in their southward migration. They originate mainly from Germany, Austria and other central European states as well as western Asia. The storks that settle or fly over Kenya come via the Sudan and Western Ethiopia following the Great Rift Valley.

Kenya with its vast plateau, Savannah grasslands and the numerous wetlands play host to thousands of the birds on an annual basis. This landscape and the climatic conditions influence the type of food resources available. Since white storks prefer foraging in large-scale cultivated farms, open grasslands and shallow wetlands, these areas therefore provide good sites for the storks.

In the recent past, there have been marked declines in the population of the white storks globally. In Kenya, the populations have been drastically declining. Although there might have been poor monitoring of the stork numbers, it is no secret that the numbers over the years have been declining. The declines have been attributed to many factors including overhead electrical cables during flight. The problem was noted in the western region where a number of birds were noted to be injured or dead. Poisons from pesticides used on farms presents a major threat to the storks on a global scale (Dallinga and Schoenmakers, 1985). Unfavourable climatic conditions and particularly rainfall distribution affects the stork population (Le Houerou, 1987). Unfavourable feeding conditions in Africa coupled with declining land sizes and lack of appreciation and conservation also affects storks (Gichuki and Rotich, 2002).

There has been an in-depth analysis of white stork numbers from the 1970s to the year 2000, which confirms that the bird population has been declining. Countrywide surveys have been done though not on an annual basis. A survey in 1983 and 1989 showed that there were 53,000 and 47,800 birds respectively, which had wintered in Kenya (Gichuki and Rotich, 2002). Observations in the earlier years were not coodinated hence data were not sufficient to make informed conclusions.

Source : https://www.ramsar.org/news/report-on-monitoring-and-conservation-of-white-storks-in-kenya