Uganda Cranes birds in their cage at Stedmak Gardens in Karen. The birds are among other beauty or ornamental birds kept in the garden for sale and tourists attraction.
Stedmak Gardens in Karen which has 30 different species of beauty birds also called ornamental birds is using the birds to attract tourists other than preserving them for breeding purposes earning the garden about Sh1m annually.
Situated along Mokoyeti Road East 500 metres off Langata Road, the garden is currently hosting over 500 beauty birds. Before the birds were just kept in the garden for purposes of preserving the species before opening up as a tourist attraction park.
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“We started in 2013 as birds’ sanctuary where we kept these birds to multiply, but of late it is one of our major business project here,” said Geofrey Maranga, the garden manager.
“We sell our birds to small farmers starting up, charge fees from visitors who come to see them and donate the older ones to schools for student’s lessons.”
Domestic tourists are charged Sh300 for adults and Sh200 for children while international adult tourists pay Sh1000 and Sh500 for the children. There is an offer of a group of 30 people on to pay Sh150 per child and Sh200 for an adult.
“We receive many visitors during weekends and holidays of between 250 and 350 a day and on festive seasons this number can go up to 1000 visitors a day,” said Maranga adding that over last year December alone the park earned them about Sh2m from visitors.
Some of the main buyers of the birds from the garden include Indians, Small farmers starting off in ornamental birds keeping, learning institutions, and peace and wedding event organizers among others.
“Indians love our birds for pets as compared to other customers. Last year alone we sold 50-80 birds worth Sh800,000 and about 65 per cent were bought by Indians,” said Rongers Ong’ondo, assistant animal park manager.
A pair of African grey parrots goes for 70,000 while a single such parrots fetches Sh40,000, a pair of Australian cocktail is Sh30, 000 while a single cocktail is bought at Sh20,000 just to sample a few.
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Australian cocktails if managed well can live for over 25 years while African grey parrots can go up to 40-50 years, said Ong’ondo.
Beauty or ornamental birds just like other birds need care especially on the feeding and vaccination aspects though they are found to consume less food than chicken for example.
While a laying chicken requires between 120g and 150g of feeds a day an ornamental bird like bantam can consume between 60g and 80g a day.
“We feed our birds on spinach, sunflower, white millet, maize bran, lime and fruits such as apples, pineapples, pawpaw and bananas. These feeds costs between Sh500 and Sh1,000 a week,” said Ong’ondo.
“Other ornamental birds kept here include Strasser Pigeon, Budgerigar, French Mondain, Reverse Wings Pouter, Jacob Lion Head Pigeon, Saddle Fantail Pigeon, Saxon Shield Owl Pigeon, Indian Fantail Pigeon, Jersey Giant, Leghorn, Pekin bantam, Greylag goose, Ugandan Cranes and guinea fowls among others.”
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A part from pigeons, parches parrots and cocktails almost all other birds need permits from Kenya Wild Life Services (KWS) to keep.
“Those interested in keeping these types of birds apply for permits by paying Sh1500 through their nearest local KWS warden offices,” said Maranga.
The permit is produced within two weeks if the applicant abides with all the regulations which include ensuring the farm or farmer from whom they source the birds is also permitted and the environment where the birds are going to be kept is safe.
“KWS officers keep visiting and checking on the birds’ affairs occasionally and those found to be maltreating the birds in any way have their permits revoked, birds released or given to other keepers.”