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Threats to Blue Swallow (Hirundo

atrocaerulea) Population in
Sanyatwe
Communal Lands of Zimbabwe

By Kudzanai Dhliwayo

Blue Swallow - Hirundo


atrocaerulea

Problem
Habitat loss and fragmentation are major causes of
declines in bird species populations.
Additional factors that could include the degradation of
breeding habitats.
Very few studies have evaluated the impact of
degradation of bird species breeding habitats on bird
populations.
Hence little is known of how changes in habitat-specific
demography of birds may be related to population
declines (Lloyd and Martin, 2005).

Objectives
1. To evaluate the Hirundo astrocearulea population in
Sanyatwe.
2. To evaluate and assess potential breeding sites.
3. To identify the threats to Hirundo astrocearulea.
4. To evaluate the habitat condition for Hirundo
astrocearulea.

Study Area
The study was carried out in Nyanga, Sanyatwe
Communal Lands located 18 22' 0" S and 32 40' 0" E.
Annual rainfall is 1236.7 mm.
Altitude is 1 800m

Methods
Estimation of Hirundo atrocaerulea population
Breeding sites
Threats
Habitat Condition
Tree Density

Results

Figure 1: The Hirundo atrocaerulea

Number of Aardvark Holes in


Sanyatwe
Arable Land

Non-Arable Land

Site

No. of aardvark holes

15

21

67

59

90

82

Total

179

Total

Site

No. of aardvark holes

Table 1: The Number of Aardvark Holes for Sanyatwe Communal Lands

Site

Cultivation Veld Fires

No Sink
Hole

Bird
Drainage Overgrazing Invasive
Disturbance
Species

Agricultural
Practices

Arable

Non Arable
3

Table 2: Potential Threats to Hirundo atrocaerulea in Sanyatwe Communal Lands

Site

Mean grass height


(cm)

Dominant
Species

Co-dominant
Species

Tree density
(tree/ha)

75.68

Setaria sphacellata

16

88.02

Eragrotis
racemosa
Rhynchelytrum
repens

Eragrotis racemosa

91.52

Eragrotis
racemosa

Themeda triandra

Non arable

85.07

97.23

Setaria
sphacellata

Themeda triandra

17

102.47

Eragrotis
racemosa

Hyparrhenia
filipendula

74.48

Setaria
sphacellata

Themeda triandra

13

Arable
Average

91.4
88.23

16
12

Table 3: Grass Species Composition and Tree Density in Sanyatwe

12.3
13

Discussion
Hirundo atrocaerulea population in this study was low.
There was no association between the number of
aardvark holes (breeding sites) and the frequency of
distribution of the Hirundo atrocaerulea.
The high drainage and invasive tree species in this land
appeared not to limit movement of the birds.

Conclusion
The results from this study indicated that very few
Hirundo atrocaerulea birds were migrating to Sanyatwe.
The potential breeding sites were in poor condition and
this could have influenced the low number of birds
observed.
Cultivation had significantly influenced the distribution
of Hirundo atrocaerulea in the study area
The invasive tree species and drainage presented
threats to the birds.

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