How the most widespread African crow, the Pied Crow Corvus albus, depends on man
AbstractThe frequently reported close association between the Pied Crow and man suggests a possible explanation for the crow’s wide distribution throughout sub-Saharan Africa, but the mode and origin of this association have received little attention. In the present study, roadside counts of Pied Crows were made in Madagascar and Cameroon to search for preferred biotopes among natural reserves, artificial pastures, cultivations and towns, while roadside counts in Botswana and Kenya served to compare the Pied Crow and the Somali Crow Corvus edithae, a species probably more similar to common ancestors, in terms of their association with wild and domestic ungulates. The occurrence of the sympatric Cape Crow Corvus capensis, assumed to be a less human-dependent species, was also taken into consideration for the association with ungulates. Pied Crow biotope preference was similar in both Madagascar and Cameroon and the combined data showed a significant preference for artificial pasture over cultivation and artificial pasture over natural reserve, and the preference for artificial pasture over town was near to significance. The combined data of the Pied Crow in Botswana and the Somali Crow in Kenya showed a significant preference for domestic ungulates. However, this preference may have been weaker in Kenya, the Somali Crow being rather similar to the Cape Crow in this respect. The Pied and Somali Crows may have diverged somewhere around Ethiopia and the Pied Crow may have expanded its range by following the environmental changes made by ungulate-raising people, who created new savanna-like biotopes.
OSTRICH 2010, 81(3): 243–246