A whistle from the forest ‘under-ground’


By Kakae Saiteu-Guide, Greystoke Mahale

Mahale Mountains National Park is a beautiful forested habitat, especially to the western side facing Lake Tanganyika. It’s different habitats range from evergreen forest, miombo woodland, thicket bush-land, swampy ground and montane forest.

All Tourism operations are being run on this western side, with a stunning forested habitat where a lot of primates’ species live. Right where the tourism recreation is being conducted the forest is divided into two or three kind of habitats; semi-deciduous forest, evergreen gallery forest, deciduous forest and some parts of thicket bush-land. These types of habitat offer varied niches that support different forms of life.

When out there hiking or trekking—being a forested habitat, one can hear sounds of creatures more than physically seeing them. One has to have an understanding of varies calls to be able to tells species apart. Otherwise you would just enjoy lovely calls, but not know what you are listening to.

Only lately when I was walking in the forest, I heard a whistle which I thought right away was a person whistling. I got curious to know how the guy was. It was strange as the call was coming some few feet from the ground in a thicket bush habitat. I thought no way could it be person. For a while I was wondering what could it be then, and if it was a person, it will be interesting to know how he got into that thicket bush. After several minutes of patient waiting and stalking, I found a Red-capped robin chat was making the whistle. It was amusing that of the many calls that this bird makes; it can even whistle like a human being. Red-capped robin chats prove to be smart chaps. Of the forty calls that it has already been found to produce, many are mimicry calls; whistling is one of them.

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