Pollution and Foraging Behavior of Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis in Bujumbura Bay of Lake Tanganyika, Burundi: Conservation Implications

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Lake Tanganyika is threatened by overfishing, deforestation, climate change and water pollution. Very few studies have investigated the effects of pollution on semi-aquatic communities such as aquatic birds. This study investigates the effects of pollution on the foraging behavior of pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis in the Bujumbura bay of Lake Tanganyika. We use data on foraging behavior of this bird species collected in 2002 as background and data collected over two periods during which we assessed change in water environmental parameters. The sampling site is located in the littoral zone next to the channel mouths that collect rainfall and wastewater from Bujumbura city. The results show a change in the number of observations of foraging pied kingfishers during the course of the day with a significantly lower number of observations in the morning than in the study carried out in 2002. The most frequent foraging behavior also changed from direct dives in 2002 to repeated hovering before diving in 2016. These changes could be accounted for by pollution as the water parameters data collected during the same time periods reveal an increase in turbidity while dissolved oxygen levels dropped. Increased turbidity may have caused reduction of visibility of these visual predatory birds. Attention should be given to measures toward alleviation of pollution of Lake Tanganyika for the conservation of semi-aquatic communities which are members of this deep and ancient lake ecosystem.