An assessment of habitat preferences of marabou storks in Makerere University campus
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Due to the important role marabou storks play in the environment, this study was conducted at Makerere University to generate knowledge to enhance conservation of these birds. Marabou storks are scavengers thereby helping to keep the environment neat and tidy through feeding on the garbage. The main objective of the study was to generate information that is important in the conservation of birds in urban areas of Uganda and specifically to assess the: i) habitat preferences of Marabou Storks at Makerere University campus, ii) influence of tree size on the number of birds and nests and iii) investigate the population structure of Marabou storks. Makerere University was divided into 4 transects. Along each transect, all trees measuring dbh above 0.78m were identified and measured. The number of birds, their age and sex, and nests on each of these trees was recorded. The total sightings of marabou storks during the study period were 262 birds in an area of 300 acres (https://www.mak.ac.ug/visting-makerere/main-campus). Canarium schweinfurthii was the most preferred tree species with an average number of birds of 56 followed by Mangifera Indica with 32, followed by albizia lebeck with 20 birds per tree and others follow in sequence. The birds preferred indigenous tree species (60 % of sightings) compared to exotic tree species (40% sightings). Birds preferred trees of large size; the biggest number of bird sighting was made on trees of 5.38m dbh size with 20 birds followed by trees of 5.82m dbh size with 16 birds. Most birds cited were females (98) compared to males (61) and unsexed were (95). In this population of marabou storks, there were more adults than young ones. Since results of this study show that marabou storks prefer indigenous trees of large size, more indigenous trees should be planted at the university premises while conserving the ones that already exist.