Update on African Cuckoo tracking



After a seemingly long period of “busy silence”, it is time to update the story of our five satellite-tracked African Cuckoos.  Let us now consider what has happened since the last blog.
Cuckoos #94 and #96 are still within the Jos area. The two birds have spent most of their time, presumably foraging and breeding, between the Amurum Forest Reserve and neighboring villages and settlements.



Cuckoo #95 stopped transmitting in mid-June. The failure of transmission is most likely due to failure of the transmitters. This is because efforts to find the bird from the place of last transmission were not successful. Also, the device transmitted for a short period about 2 weeks later from the same general area. It therefore seems that this individual may be flying about with a faulty transmitter. 
Cuckoo #97 has been the most adventurous individual. After spending a few weeks around the APLORI /Laminga/Kerker areas, in mid-June it flew towards Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau state where it spent about 1 week before moving towards the border of Plateau and Kaduna state to spend an additional 2 days. At the end of June, the bird then returned to the APLORI/Laminga/Kerker areas, stayed until mid-July before departed an area close to Toro, Bauchi State. On the 24 of September it had moved to another location about 100 km away.
Cuckoo #98 stayed within the APLORI/Laminga/Kerker area until mid-August before moving to an area close to Toro, Bauchi State.
Considering that this project started just at about the beginning of the rains, and also that two cuckoos are still around the general area where they were trapped, I speculate that the cuckoos may begin to show longer and clearer movements at the end of the rainy season in the Jos area. Also, given that Diederick cuckoos and Klaas’s cuckoos are currently still heard calling around the Amurum Forest Reserve, the prolonged stay of the two individuals may be in response to resources that are still abundant.

Intra-African Migration: African Cuckoo Project

Cuc – koo! Cuc – koo!
It all started like a treasure hunt. First we (Me, Roine and Mirja) had to travel down south to Weppa Farms, Agenebode on 18 May, with the hope of intercepting the African Cuckoos on their way up North. As it turned out, we were too late. Only the Red-chested Cuckoo, Diederic’s Cuckoo, Leveillant’s Cuckoo and Black Cuckoo were on ground to welcome us. After combing the lenght and breadth of the farm for 3 days, we decided to go back north on 22 May. At Abuja, we picked up Kasper before continuing the journey to Jos.
May 24: The morning was a hopeful one; the cuckoo trapping team was complete and our faces were beaming with excitement of the task ahead of us; CATCH 5 or 7 AFRICAN CUCKOOS! However, our first attempt within the Amurum Forest Reserve did not yield any result. We walked around for most part of the day, listening for cuckoos calling far away then walking in the direction of the calls. The day ended without any success.
May 25: We decided to drive down into Laminga village. Our hopes were raised when one Cuckoo came flying towards our direction in response to the playback we had. Quickly we determined a good catching spot, set up our nets, together with the stuffed Common Cuckoo and the playback. We watched keenly as a male Cuckoo flew round and round the nets, occasionally coming very close to the net. Soon there were 2 individuals flying around. But, again and again our hopes were dashed. Now we began to think “what were we doing wrongly?…”
May 26: As early as 05:00 we drove to Laminga, to the site where we encountered the 2 individuals the previous day. With the nets opened and fingers crossed, we waited patiently while our playback equipment entertained us with the famous “cuc – koo.. cuc –koo..” call. Soon a male was responding to our playback. After a while, Roine decided to lure the male towards the net. Indeed he seemed to have got the birds attention because now it was scanning the net to see who the intruder was. Suddenly, Roine was running, I was running and so was Kasper, all towards the net. Yes! We caught the first African Cuckoo. As I took the bird out of the net, the Hallelujah chorus rang in my head. Oh! What a feeling it was.
May 27: no success was recorded.
May 28: At another location in Laminga. Imagine a Cuckoo sitting on the net pole for some time and then dropping down to sit next to the stuffed cuckoo for over 30 minutes. That was the experience that evening until we managed to flush it into the net.
May 29: we moved the nets to Kerker and by evening using Roine’s tricks, we caught one more individual.
May 30: we move the nets to another spot within the area and by evening we had bird number 4.
May 31: we caught bird number 5 just 6 minutes after opening the nets.
June 1 – June 3: Attempts made to catch more individuals were not successful.
So far, data downloaded shows that the birds have been moving back and forth, relatively close the ringing site, (view image of Cuckoo 126696). On the image, the colour of the dot indicates the quality of the data; dark blue (representing the maximum location class, LC 3), light blue (LC 2) and green dots (LC 1). White dot is LC 0, while yellow and brown dots are LC A and LC B respectively. LC A and B are of poor quality and most likely not representative of where the bird was in reality.


I anticipate that soon we would be able to provide some answers to questions relating to intra-African migration, especially for the African Cuckoo.

Edu Effiom gains her PhD

Edu has successfully defended her PhD thesis titled “Consequences of bushmeat hunting in tropical forests” on March 1st2013 at Lund University, Sweden. Funding for her thesis was provided by grants from Sida, Kungliga Fysiografiska Sallskapet and Formas with support from Lund University, Cross River State Forestry Commission, A. P.  Leventis   Ornithological Research Institute, Jos and WCS. 

Her thesis evaluated the effect of bushmeat hunting in southeastern Nigerian rainforests on: 
1) adult tree, seedling, and animal community compositions 
2) germination and survival among seedlings in association with competition 
3) changes in community composition at multiple trophic levels 
4) leaf nitrogen concentration (LNC), leaf mass per area (LMA) and stem specific density (SSD) 
5) on human reliance on forest resources and rural people use forest resources

Results from her thesis showed that primates (4-180 kg) were much rarer in hunted sites, while seed predators increased in abundance with hunting. Community composition of birds was similar in paired sites.  Seedlings and adult tree composition were similar in protected sites. Abiotically dispersed species dominated in hunted sites and had a higher germination rate only in hunted sites. Seedling communities were significantly related to mammal communities. LNC and SSD increased with hunting but not LMA. Data from questionnaires administered in four villages in and around the Cross River National Park revealed an overwhelming reliance by households on forest resources for sustenance. Contrary to prevailing knowledge, the collection of food resources was the most widespread form of resource extraction and not bushmeat. More primate dispersed trees have utility for human compared trees with other dispersal modes. Results reveal a minimal effect of competition among seedlings rather that dispersal limitation and altered mammal community composition triggered by the decline of efficient seed dispersing vertebrates majorly mediate changes in seedling communities and that these changes are largely detrimental to forest conservation and human wellbeing. 

One of her papers haverecently been published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/280/1759/20130246.abstract

More on her work can be seen at:

APLORI produces another set of Scientists


The A. P. Leventis Ornithological Institute (APLORI) has produced yet another set of well-trained scientists. They rounded up their studies on the 12th of December 2012 with the presentation of their research findings to the External Examiner Dr. Andy Gosler and a host of other academic and research staff.  This set is the 9th set of APLORI graduates.
Graduates with their external examiner, HOD Zoology representative and the Director, APLORI
From L-R: Dr Manu, Daniel, Abok, Dayo, Chima, Neri, Dr. Gosler, Biplang, Albert, Elmond and Dr. (Mrs) Absolom

APLORI’s 10th Anniversary

Ruth Akagu giving her talk

On Thursday 15th November 2012, APLORI celebrated its 10th year Anniversary of research and training in Conservation Biology with an emphasis in Ornithology. The Institute has so far trained 58 Masters and 5 PhD degrees, which are well groomed scientists, recognized both nationally and internationally. 
Listeners at the presentations
Will Cresswell making a presentation
APLORI’s graduates are found in various institutions contributing their quota to the conservation of the world’s biodiversity.
Hazel Chapman giving her talk
The highlights of the day included the presentation of the 3rd A. P. Leventis Annual Lecture and presentations from various APLORI graduates doing research in different fields of ecology.

A. P. Leventis 3rd Annual Lecture

The A. P. Leventis 3rd Annual Lecture was held at the lecture auditorium of the APLORI on the 15th of November 2012, also marking the 10th Year Anniversary of the Institute. 
Dr. P. J. Jones

The Lecture was presented by Dr. Peter James Jones, an Honorary Fellow, Institute of Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh UK. the lecture was titled ” ‘Tsunstun Jambaki’ an Avian Locust”. 

In attendance was the Vice- Chancellor of the University of Jos and other Stakeholders in the academic and business community.
Dr. Jones receiving a gift from the Vice- Chancellor represented by Prof. Dakul 
Peter Jones highlighted the problems caused by the genus Quelea and traced history of efforts put in place by different government to curb their menace.  He also pointed possible areas of research.

Dr. Peter Jones