By Ally Jamah
Officials at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport are battling to contain large numbers of birds crisscrossing the busy airport and posing a risk to flights.
Bird activity across the airport’s airspace has intensified with the breeding season, as large birds shuffle between the Nairobi National Park and the Dandora dumpsite, where they get food.
Kenya Airports Authority’s (KAA) Wildlife Control Manager George Amutete said patrols along JKIA’s four-kilometre runway have been increased to keep away birds that may collide with planes.
"We are using all the equipment we have to control the movement of birds within the airport," Mr Amutete said. Patrolling workers use catapults and sound-emitting projectors to disperse birds around the runway.
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KAA has also hired workers to chase away birds along the Nairobi-Mombasa Highway, where large schools of Marabou Stork, crows and egrets nest.
The operation has been going on for the past one month.
"Many people underrate the risk that birds pose to planes, but it is a serious problem that needs endless precaution," he explained.
In 2007, a Kenya Airways plane was brought down at JKIA after birds were sucked into its engine. No one was injured, but more than Sh400 million was spent to repair the plane.
Amutete said the Dandora dumpsite was responsible for the problem since it is a source of food for birds.