Meet a man who cherishes eating marabou stork birds
Walking with a stoop and clutching a club in his hands, Peter Egai has a gait of any elderly man of his age.
However, what makes Egai different from rest is his penchant for consuming marabou stork birds, scavengers loathed by most human beings.
Born in Lokitang on the shores of Lake Turkana hundreds of kilometers away from Kitale town 65 years ago, Egai narrates with nostalgia how he hunts for the birds.
“I can catch about a dozen of the birds and carry them in a gunny sack and take them to my mother at home and she cooks two of and preserves the rest through smoking”, he proudly narrates.
Pointing with the club at three marabou stork birds that had landed in the County Information Office compound, Mr. Egai revealed that the birds inhabit Lokutang in large numbers.
“I remember seeing flocks of these birds hovering in the azure sky chirping loudly before they could descend on the shores to feast on the carcasses of fish and other creatures”, he explained.
Oblivious of the negative attention he attracts whenever he is sited carrying the carcasses of the birds as he saunters towards his home in the slums of Kipsongo, Mr. Egai attempted to trap one of the three bird’s chicks within the precincts of the office, but ducked to safety in the nick of time.
“I have just missed these fowls that could have provided my family with a delicious meal”, Mr. Egai regretted.
He says marabou stork birds’ meat is more delicious than that of fish and chicken. “You can chew the bones with ease as they are soft”, he observed.
Mr. Egai explained that when the birds are not in season meaning that when they have migrated from Kitale town between the month of March and September every year, he is forced to eat green vegetables.
“During that lean time I have to wait for their return with anguish”, he quipped.
There are various species of marabou stork birds but the one that Egai cherishes most is the tiny bluish one that spots a featherless neck with a crop protruding from it.
He however, was also quick to warn that not all marabou stork birds are eatable.
“The huge ugly marabou stork birds with featherless heads and massive beaks should never be consumed”, Mr. Egai cautioned adding that the birds locally dubbed ‘chatoto’ are poisonous.
Marabou stork birds are migratory in nature and help in cleaning the environment by feeding on carcasses, rats and serpents.
According to the County Director of Environment (CDE), Mr. Jaspa Omwenga, the birds cherish living near human habitats in a bid to feed on discarded food and garbage.
However, despite being environmental cleaners, marabou birds are regarded by the residents as despicable creatures that are a menace and a health risk as they splash their white droppings from the sky on unsuspecting residents as they walk underneath the trees.
By Khisa Mmasi