For the past two years, Corporal Gladys Gathogo has taken keen interest in birds. This was never the case before, but her experience with a strange bird believed to have come from Russia changed all this.
At around 6pm on January 22, 2015, a Steppe Eagle landed right at the gate of Makongeni Police Station, along Jogoo Road. One of the two people passing nearby picked the bird and handed it over to Corporal Gladys Gathogo, who was on duty at the station.
“It had a metal ring on its leg and white tags on both wings, which made me suspect it was under some kind of research. I resolved to call and inform Kenya Wildlife Service about it.”
As she notified KWS, Gathogo locked the Steppe Eagle in one of the rooms. At 7.30pm, Peter Mutoro, a ranger from Problem Animal Control (PAC) department, arrived at the station and picked the bird.
Mutoro says KWS headquarters called and instructed him to go pick the bird. “I visited the police station and picked the bird,” he confirms. Corporal Gathogo booked the incident in the Occurrence Book (OB). He adds many people would easily have left the bird to die or wait for its own fate.
An ornithologist and research scientist NMK with the Zoology department, Titus Imboma, received the Steppe Eagle. Imboma says the Steppe Eagle, whose origin is Russia, must have got tired after travelling long distance and landed at the station.
“Luckily, it was saved by the officer, courtesy of the ring and white tags,” he said.
“I have always thought all birds belonged to this country. It has never occurred to me there are foreign birds that come and go.”
The information on the bird’s ring read, ‘AA 22 17 MOSKVA’ and was ringed in Russia. Imboma explains they later sent the ring number, species of the bird and its location to bird rangers in Russia.
He reveals: “The Russians responded the Steppe eagle was tagged on July 5, 2014 in the Volgograd region (Russia): N 49.62 E 46.47, by a scientist called Valery Pimenov. The bird had travelled 5,719 km, in about three months.”