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When Africa becomes more attractive

WITH about 30.3 million square kilometres or 11.7 million square miles which include adjacent islands, the continent covers six per cent of Earth’s total surface area and 20.4 per cent of its total land area as it is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, both the Suez Canal and the Red Sea along the Sinai Peninsula to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.

The climate of Africa ranges from tropical to subarctic on its highest peaks. Its northern half is primarily desert, or arid, while its central and southern areas contain both Savannah plains and dense jungle or rainforest regions. In between, there is a convergence, where vegetation patterns such as Sahel and steppe dominate.

At different time of every year these features attract millions of animals from different parts of the world, with a body measuring up to 30 metres or 98 ft in length and weighing more than 200 tones the blue whale is the largest animal on Earth, female blue whale give birth to a single or twin calves after a gestation period of about a year weighing three tonnes like a full grown female African bush elephant who approximately has 3 tonnes.

During the first seven months of its life, a baby Blue Whale drinks approximately 400 litre of milk every day while an Elephant can hardly manage to drink 15 litre of milk reach in fat and protein.

Whale’s milk is more nutritious than one from an Elephant because fifty per cent of its content is made of fat, thirty fiver protein and fifteen other important nutrients, this enables a young Blue Whale to add 90 kilogrammes after every 24 hours so by the time they are weaned within six months of age they are about 52 feet long and weigh about 23 tonnes.

At the beginning of winter in northern hemisphere pregnant female Blue Whales will migrate into Tropical area and swim to shallow warm water of the Indian Ocean to give birth. While stationed in a natural labour clinic located some few miles from the city of Dar es Salaam in the middle of Indian Ocean, the mother will allow the baby to come out from her womb by the tail first then the whole body.

After giving birth the mother will assist her new born to swim into a safe area using her flippers for 30 minutes, but is believed the baby is capable to swim within ten minutes of their birth. Blue Whales reach sexual maturity when they are ten years old although it is believed that male getematured later than female.

Although they have those massive bodies Blue Whale are good swimmers because they can reach a top speed of 48.5 kilometres per hour in a bust but usually they cruise at a speed of 19.5 kilometres per hour.

On another side history shows that the industrial revolution of eighteenth century caused some environments catastrophes which forced white storks to look for new area with favorable pastures, from that time to date these European birds have selected Africa as their summer grazing and playing ground leaving their cradle land for laying and hatching activities.

Scientists say initially it is during the nineteenth century when massive groups of these started to migrate into Africa leaving the lazy, irresponsible, sick and older bird to starve to their death in Europe, in the month of August in every year white storks from different parts of Europe congregates in some parts of Spain and Portugal to prepare themselves for a long journey to greener pastures in Africa.

Between one to two weeks these birds build up a strong group consisting more than 530,000 white storks which fly along the shores of Mediterranean Sea to a stopover at Gibraltar, from this rocky island a smaller group of these birds normally fly favorable areas in western African countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, Mali and Chad.

Unlike the desperate migrants from Africa who risk their lives by crossing the Red sea on overloaded ships, a larger group of white storks avoid the Sahara desert and flying over Nile river to Africa, from a point called Bosphorus in Turkey which connects Asia and Europe continents, these birds fly very high along the shores of Mediterranean Sea through Levant.

This route enables these birds to avoid harmful sandy storms, powerful wind and hot air bubbles which dominate the sky over the might Sahara Desert in the northern part of Africa. In a single or extended file covering more than 200 kilometres these use their powerful wings to glide between 1,200 and 1,500 metres above the sea level and avoid any effect from the larges desert on Earth.

During rough time white storks are believed to glide up to more than 3,300 metres above the sea level, this position in the air reduces negative effects of gravitational forces but these birds can achieve this height because they are equipped with flexible and bigger wings are 155 to 215 centimetres long, amazingly their wings are capable of spanning nonstop for not less than seven week in days and nights as they travel from Europe to national parks and game reserves in eastern and southern Africa.

While being welcomed with good songs from innocent African children, on their arrivals these birds divide themselves into smaller groups consisting of 45 to 50 white storks, when moving from one point to another inside the national parks the monogamy birds graze and scavenge in pairs consisting of a female and a male white stork.

To avoid or reduce attacks from predators such as hyena, leopard, jackal and cheetah while in Africa male and female white stork graze in five to seven metres apart, the prime food are insects such as locusts, grasshopper and worms but they may include smaller rodents, frogs and lizards.

Sometime white storks prey on the notorious quelea quelea birds but when they get used to the real taste of African meat they may embark on scavenging for dead bodies of animals in the savannah. While staying in Africa, using material weighing 60 to 250 kilogrammes these couples build temporary nest which stand about 1.5 metres with a base covering an area of not less than 1 square metre.

Zoologists say during their arrival in East Africa new couples may try to strengthen their ties by building a nest but due to different interest the union may be broken allowing each member to look for a new partner, scientists from Europe and Africa say the coming of white stork in this part of the world is under a threat of getting into a dead end due to abrupt habitual changes of these birds.

Korongo weupe is a Swahili name for these birds but by doing this, the EU will force the white stork in a big number to rediscover their greener pastures in Africa south of Sahara. rstanslaus@yahoo.com

Author: Reginald Stanislaus Matillya

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