To promote the highest standards of safety, security and service in civil aviation, UCAA maintains a dual approach while dealing with birds.
The Airport has a dedicated Bird Hazard and Wildlife Control Unit. Its primary task is to proactively ensure safety of aircraft operations, using modern
techniques for bird hazard control at airports.
These techniques conform to international conventions on migration of birds. Traditional methods of bird scare and control are also applied. CAA thus delicately balances aviation safety and the international opinion on environment conservation. Strides in Bird Hazard Control at Entebbe International Airport narrate the whole story.
Entebbe International Airport is on a peninsular surrounded by a fresh water mass – Lake Victoria. Being near the equator, the area experiences two rain maxima (April and October). These and other human activities attract both local and migratory bird species – with the latter visiting the peninsula in March and October every year.
Entebbe Peninsula is a gazetted ‘Bird Sanctuary” and host to some of the common bird species including, African fish eagles, Black kites, Marabou storks, Black headed herons, Swallows, Gulls, Terns and Egrets, among others. Air Transport is greatly threatened by the presence of birds at any airport. Airline companies can lose up to $ 10 m in replacement of a single aircraft engine after destruction by birds. In worse cases, there could be total loss of an aircraft its passengers and or cargo.
In addition to the ready availability of food and roosting grounds around L. Victoria, other human activities also attract birds to the Airport.
Though providing a livelihood for a great part of the community has attracted many different bird species
Human activities have led to an increase in the amount of waste. This has led to an increase in birds visiting the airport surroundings.
creates pools of water, which with time collect invertebrates like worms, insects and snails. These are popular feeds for birds
Some food plants like sweet potatoes and cassava are also a delicacy for rodents, which in May attract birds
Over the years, many places particularly islands that were occupied by these birds have been taken up by human settlement. Birds have therefore had to look for elsewhere including the airport and its immediate surroundings.
Other Natural Attractions
Anthills, tall trees and bushes. Anthills and tall trees provide perching/standing ground for birds to watch for prey or their enemies. The trees also provide roosting opportunity for the birds.
Entebbe peninsula is located in the migratory path of birds moving in and out of the northern and southern hemispheres. This has led to many migratory species stopping over around the airport.
Bird control measures and methods
In a bid to control the presence and scare of birds, socio-ecological study was carried out in 1997. Effective bird control measures and methods have since been evolved. These include but are not limited to:
(i) Formation of a Bird Hazard and Wildlife Control Unit (BHCU) at Entebbe International Airport.
(ii) Environment Management
BHCU carries out nest removal. This has reduced the number of birds breeding within the airport fence. Bush clearing is also done to reduce the number of birds hiding in the bushes.
This has been effective in the reduction of most birds that are fond of perching, especially the African fish eagle and other species that feed on ants
Long Grass Policy
Grass is to be left at a height of 20 cm. This is intended to impair the birds’ vision, thus making them insecure and discouraging their presence. This method however, is still under more investigation.
This has particularly been effective in case of a bird strike incident. The removal of bird remains helps control scavenging birds, especially the Black kite and Marabou storks that come to feed on the same.
Monitoring of Refuse Disposal
Constant check on refuse to ensure proper disposal has had great impact on the reduction of the Marabou stork, black kite, pied crow and other scavenging species
- There is constant monitoring and sensitisation of the neighborhood to discourage bird attractions. This includes audit checks to the fish factories, markets, landing sites and any other like places from time to time.
- Discouragement of gardening in and around the airport environs
Bird Scare Methods
- Distress Call Sounds: Recorded sounds of birds under distress have especially been effective in control of migratory species.
- Foot Patrols using Catapults: Foot patrol units are stationed at the runway edges to scare off any birds sighted. This method has been effective in the control of large birds, e.g. fish eagles, black kites, black headed herons and marabou storks.
- Pyrotechnics: using 2 signal pistols and 4C type cartridges for bird scare. NB: These are to scare not to kill!
- Runway Inspections: Ten minutes before every jet aircraft movement dedicated vehicles inspect the runway. Findings are transmitted to the Air Traffic Controller who advises the pilot accordingly.
Airport Bird Hazard and Wildlife Control Committee
The Airport Bird Hazard and Wildlife Control Committee is chaired by the General Manager of Entebbe International Airport. The committee includes the Board of Airlines Representative and other relevant members of the community. It is charged with overseeing the implementation of recommended methods and measures for bird hazard control.
Collection of Data and Research
For purposes of continuous research to improve the present methods, data on bird strike incidents is collected. It includes bird type, number of birds involved, aircraft type, weather, time etc. Bird site reports are also made for studying bird patterns in terms of season, time, weather etc. Reports are made to CAA management, Airport Bird Hazard Control Committee and Air operators.
In general, there has been a tremendous reduction in bird strike incidents involving large birds i.e. African fish eagles and Marabou storks. Gull, tern and swallow incidents have also reduced. With less large birds involved in bird strike incidents; the risk of Aircraft damage has greatly reduced at Entebbe International Airport.
For more information, Please Contact
CAA Bird Hazard and Wildlife Control Unit
P.O. Box 5536 Kampala
Tel: +256- 312 353000 Ext. 2267, 2264