In Khartoum, a plant sanctuary welcomes exotic birds

published on Tuesday, May 17, 2022 at 11:12 am

Gabon gray parrots, ring-necked parakeets and other birds with colorful feathers have found refuge in a 400 square meter plant sanctuary nestled east of Khartoum, the Sudanese capital.

“I have a passion for birds,” says Akram Yehia, owner of the Marshall Nature Reserve. “I wanted to create an ideal environment for them as close as possible to their natural habitat,” he told AFP.

Four years ago, this 40-year-old decided to build his own reserve in the front garden of his house. Mr. Yehia has built dozens of nesting boxes himself, with which he has dotted his Eden for birds. He has also decorated this small nature reserve with lush vegetation, a small pond and misters, thus creating an island of freshness in the stifling heat of Khartoum.

Rose-ringed parakeets, Meyer’s parrots and red-rumped parakeets flit from branch to branch and compete for the nest boxes of Mr. Yehia’s huge aviary with the rest of the hundred or so birds from 13 different species that have taken up residence in his sanctuary.

“I tamed them and I taught them not to attack each other,” told AFP this enthusiast whose favorite bird is a gray parrot from Gabon who responds to the name of “Kuku” and who excels at mimicking human sounds and movements.

– Safe Haven –

Business is good at the reserve which welcomes Sudanese and international visitors for two to three hours a day, a time limited by Mr Yehia “so as not to disturb the birds”.

Massive protests in response to the October 25 coup and their violent repression by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane’s regime have, however, affected the economic model of the reserve.

Visits are regularly disrupted on days of protests because the closure of streets to traffic makes getting around Khartoum very difficult.

“The tear gas used during the protests is extremely harmful and dangerous for the birds,” said Mr Yehia, saying that acquaintances living near the main protest sites “lost all the birds they had”.

Like all Sudanese, Mr. Yehia has to deal with ever-increasing expenses: the national currency has collapsed against the dollar and the prices of food and petrol are constantly inflating. Circumstances that make his wish to expand the reserve complicated to achieve. “It’s too expensive right now,” he laments to AFP.

For visitors, the reserve remains a unique experience, a haven of peace that allows them to escape from the bustle of the Sudanese capital.

“I didn’t know there was a place like that in Khartoum,” enthused Anna Shcherbakova, a visitor from Ukraine. Hossameddine Sidahmed, a Sudanese visitor, would like the reserve to expand. “It would be even more beautiful”, he likes to imagine.

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