Invasive Alien Bird Species Pose A Threat

The department of environmental affairs has declared two bird species as invasive aliens - the Indian mynah and the mallard duck.

Indian mynahs were originally introduced into Natal in an effort to control cane beetles, garden insects and locusts. The birds breed extremely rapidly and compete with other birds for food resources and nesting space. Environmental affairs state that due to this competition, the birds will have an effect on the populations of indigenous bird species.

Indian mynahs are omnivores, and eat nearly everything. They are a lot like scavengers and thus abundant in populated areas due to all the food resources and scraps created by humans. Kobus Pienaar from the department of environmental affairs reports that five years ago the Indian mynah did not occur in the Limpopo province, but is now distributed in towns all the way north to Alldays.

These birds were introduced to South Africa and are classified as an alien bird species. Breeding statistics from their natural environment indicates that they produce three chicks twice a year. In South Africa where they have no natural enemies and with optimal reproduction conditions they produce five chicks twice a year, resulting in increased production of four chicks a year.

The Indian mynah is listed in the new Limpopo Environmental Act as an invasive alien species. This means that it is illegal to acquire, possess, keep, breed, sell, purchase, donate or to receive as a gift, import into and transport a mynah in Limpopo. The numbers of these birds must be controlled to prevent them becoming a major problem. Anyone who has observed these birds interacting with indigenous species, or seen their nest sites is invited to contact the department with details.

The invasive alien mallard duck is causing severe genetic pollution of South Africa's biodiversity by breeding with endemic ducks. The hybrids of mallard ducks and the yellow billed duck are fertile and can thus produce more hybrid offspring. If this continues, only hybrids will occur and in the long term this will result in the loss of our indigenous yellow billed duck.

The mallard duck can cross breed with 45 other species and is posing a severe threat to the genetic integrity of our indigenous waterfowls. Mallards and their hybrids compete with indigenous birds for resources such as food, nest sites and roosting sites. Mallard males also kill the offspring of other waterfowl species by attacking and drowning them.

Mallard ducks pose a serious threat and people are asked to forfeit any mallards already in their possession by either destroying them or bringing them to your nearest environmental affairs office. If any of these invasive alien birds are spotted please report it to your nearest environmental affairs office, or call 015 293 8300.

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