Tororo family adopts crested crane

By Vision Reporter

''Winyo’ translates as ‘bird’ in the Jop’Adhola dialect but it is also the name of a crested crane with a unique story.

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Saturday
Vision
 
By Moses Nampala

The word ‘winyo’ translates as ‘bird’ in the Jop’Adhola dialect. But for people in Bison slum, Tororo Municipality, it is also the name of an eight-month-old crested crane that has been nurtured in the home of Francis Ochullo.
 
It enjoys attention, love, compassion, and loyalty, similar to what a child expects from a parent. Winyo is an adult bird, old enough to fly but sleeps indoors. Its meals are served on a plate. And, on a hot afternoon, a basin of water is prepared for it to bath.
 
When Saturday Vision visited Ochullo, Winyo was not at home.
 
“If you are a little patient Winyo will be here for lunch, in a short while,” Ochullo, also Bison LC1 secretary for defence, assured us.
 
And not long after, hovering in space, the crane descended like a jet, landing at the extreme end of the narrow courtyard. It briefly flapped its wings before sauntering gracefully towards the main house, where its master patiently waited, with a blue plastic plate onto which lay raw rice grains for its lunch. A stranger to Winyo will notice the pride this bird has grown to exude.
 
It moves in lazy, but purposeful strides and, at one moment, halts its walk to scan around curiously. It has become a practice for Ochullo to caution strangers to Winyo, beforehand: “It is very sensitive and reacts violently to people who try to touch it.”
 
Immaculate, Ochullo’s wife says Winyo enjoys raw cereal grains, but its favourite is mukene (silverfish) and posho. These just supplement what Winyo gets by itself during its regular stay out of home. The bird’s familiar hunting ground is in the nearby wetland.
 
Ochullo got Winyo eight months ago as a tiny little chic on the verge of death while clearing a bush at the spot where he was planning to dig a fish pond.
 
 
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Francis Ochullo feeds the crested crane he adopted. PHOTO/Moses Nampala
 

He heard it rattling helplessly, drenched and shivering in the cold. Its left leg was fractured.
 
“I initially thought it was a wild duck, but I decided that whatever it was, I was going to domesticate it.”
 
He tied sticks around its fractured leg and the bird healed and grew fast. But it still walks with a limp. Simon Owor, Ochullo’s brother, cannot imagine the crested crane’s amazing instincts.
 
“That bird spends nearly the whole morning away from home, only returning for lunch. It will then vanish again returning at dusk,” he explains.
 
It comes indoors by 6:30pm local time, taking its resting spot near the marital bed of its master. But as soon as the family settles down for supper, the crane joins them.
 
“It depends on what has been on the evening menu. Sometimes, it retreats without tasting anything,” Immaculate narrates.
 
According to Ochullo, officials from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) have been at his home a number of times to claim the highly esteemed bird in the nation.
 
“But each time I tell them the sad account of how I took in the bird, they are humbled and leave me. But I know they have not given up pursuing the matter.”
 
He, however, believes he has survived harassment from UWA officials because he is Bison’s LC1 secretary for defence.
 
“The last thing on my mind is to hurt or kill this lovely wild bird. I love it as much as I do my family members,” he says with a wide smile on his face.

Tororo family adopts crested crane