SEABIRD CONSERVATION PROGRAMME
Andrew de Blocq and Christina Hagen worked on funders reports and proposals throughout the week. Andrew and Christina also met via Skype with colleagues in the UK about the upcoming penguin research field season, analyses pertaining to the island closures project, and potential collaborations on future projects. Andrew drafted a newsletter article, organized volunteers for an AS@S cruise, and spent time cleaning up the penguin tracking database. Christina also attended a meeting at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries about the setting of the sardine quota for the year.
Albatross Task Force
Andrea Angel commented on the inshore trawl report produced by CapMarine looking at seabird bycatch monitoring and use of mitigation measures data. She also drafted a research report to assist in registering the bait that will be used in the Marion mouse eradication project. Reason Nyengera focused on analysing data and drafting a paper from seabird observation trips dating back to 2015 to investigate fishing operations and gear configuration in the demersal longline fishery. He also reviewed the results from harbour visits aimed at improving our relationship with the hake longline fisherman as well as promoting the use of seabird bycatch mitigation measures.
Nini van der Merwe and Ross Wanless worked to get the final arrangements for the final Global Seabird Bycatch Assessment workshop organised. This included a few late night calls with project team members and ironing out details on the documentation required for the workshop. They further spent time working on reports required for by the project funder.
Mouse Free Marion
Nini interacted with a number of donors interested in supporting the project. She also engaged with colleagues from the RSPB to discuss potential future fundraising efforts. She worked on finalising the Memorandum of Understanding between BirdLife South Africa and the Department of Environmental Affairs.
The RSPB is in the process of importing a shipment of bait to test the shipping route (and how this will affect the condition of the bait). Nini is assisting with procuring suitable storage space and also applying for import permits for the shipment. She is also in discussions with the RSPB about an upcoming biosecurity workshop that will be hosted at the SANAP facility in Cape Town in the winter of 2019. The hope is that this workshop will facilitate the improvement of biosecurity measures in and around the East Pier facility, from where the SA Agulhas 2 departs to Gough and Marion Island, and also the Antarctic research base.
Ross Wanless attended an Indian Ocean Tuna Commission Compliance meeting in Maputo, Mozambique.
TERRESTRIAL BIRD CONSERVATION PROGRAMME
Hanneline Smit-Robinson and Melissa Whitecross took part in the ten day Kruger Challenge, an event organised in conjunction with Rockjumper Birding Tours. Avid birders from all over the world took part in this enormously successful event, helping to raise close to R350,000 for White-winged Flufftail Conservation. Linda van den Heever and Ernst Retief provided logistical support. Carina Coetzer and Sakhile Mthalane completed preparations for the annual Ingula Wetlands Day on 16 February. Sakhile also completed the quarterly powerline surveys, while Carina updated the Southern Bald Ibis national breeding database, and attended the Golden Gate Birding Weekend hosted by the Honorary Rangers. Robin Colyn spent the week working on the Lesser Flamingo monitoring project underway in Kimberley. Monitoring by BirdLife South Africa has been underway for three weeks, initially by Andrew Jenkins and then continued by Tania Anderson. Robin took over from Tania, with monitoring objectives being the assessment of breeding and activity behaviour at the breeding colony currently at Kamfers Dam. Robin has also been developing and running numerous models assessing water levels, algal concentrations and population numbers across the respective site.
Sam Ralston and Nndwa Muhale finalised the first Birds and Renewable Energy Update newsletter for 2019. Sam also provided pre-application screening advice on a proposed development site for Windlab.
Estuary IBA Conservation Project
Giselle Murison met with riparian landowners at the Klein River estuary this week to discuss the draft Management Agreement for the proposed Nature Reserve for their property. She also had a meeting with Estuary Advisory Forum members around funding awareness-raising material highlighting the importance of the birds and biodiversity of the Cape Whale Coast IBA, including bird information signage. On Friday, Giselle met with the Grootbos Foundation to discuss protected area expansion within the Walker Bay Conservancy, as well as other conservation initiatives planned for the area. She also spent time this week drafting comments on the Klein and Bot River-Kleinmond Estuary Management Plans, including collating previous comments on the relevant estuary zonation plans.
IBA/KBA delineation Project
Ernst Retief attended a KBA Technical Support Workshop in Cape Town. The purpose of the workshop was to analyse the various datasets to be used to draft a new Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) network in South Africa. Ernst delivered a presentation about his evaluation of the current Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas network in terms of the KBA criteria. He will now develop the range maps for birds and submit to the consultants who were appointed to develop the KBA network.
IBA/KBAs and bird data and Spatial planning Project
On Thursday Ernst Retief met with Sanjo Rose, Robert Thompson and Res Altwegg to discuss various issues relating to SABAP2, CWAC and SAFRING. The discussions were very valuable and some of the issues raised will be tabled at the next SABAP2 Steering Committee Meeting for clarification.
South African Key Biodiversity Areas
Daniel Marnewick, Ernst Retief and Simeon Bezeng attended the KBA national stakeholder workshop on 12 and 13 February at SANBI, Kirstenbosch, Cape Town. The workshop aimed to engage with taxon data holders and map a methodology for revising and expanding the current national KBA network. This is a highly collaborative and bottom-up process. It is also world leading in terms of its nature and extent, and a lot of lessons learnt in the South Africa example will be used by other countries and the global KBA partnership.
Regional and Global Key Biodiversity Areas
For this week, first Simeon Bezeng took part in the South African KBA review assessment discussion above. Specifically, Bezeng was interested in which taxa will feed into the KBA assessment and the state of readiness of these data sets. This forms an important learning opportunity for Bezeng to implement in the BASPA pilot countries. Second, Bezeng prioritized the completion of the first draft of the JRS funding proposal, budget and work plan for Kenya. Daniel Marnewick met with various NGO representatives from Mozambique and Madagascar who, under different projects, are initiating KBA identification processes in their respective countries. Daniel shared lessons from South Africa, and further developed collaborative links with various KBA partners.
Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures
Daniel Marnewick and Candice Stevens met with Harry Jonas, head of the OECM Task Force, to update Harry on the 2nd stakeholder workshop, and to plan their attendance of the global OECM meeting in Germany in June.
POLICY & ADVOCACY PROGRAMME
Candice Stevens was booked off ill for the majority of the week but once back at work Candice attended to international policy work and regional meetings including: United Nations Development Programme BIOFIN Africa regional workshop planning; African Protected Areas Congress (APAC) meetings with the BirdLife Africa Secretariat; and the International Land Conservation Network’s participation in APAC.
Fiscal Benefits Programme - Tax extension officer
Ellane van Wyk, Tax Extension Officer, spent the week following up on discussions that arose during the Protected Area Expansion Meeting the previous week. Further discussions were held with Kevin McCann of Conservation Outcomes about 12 stewardship sites in KZN that will be visited very soon (dates just need to be confirmed), with Alan Wheeler about four sites in the Western Cape for which all the required documents for the tax benefit are in place (these sites will be visited during the period 11 to 15 March 2019), and with Ben-Jon Dreyer of Wilderness Foundation about four Northern Cape sites which will be visited from 25-27 February. The purpose of the site visits will be for Ellane to introduce herself to landowners and communities who have declared stewardship sites, to provide more detail about the tax benefit, and to provide assistance in this regard. Ellane also did some reading up on Servitudes to prepare for the Servitude Workshop to be held in Cape Town on 22 February.
This week Jonathan Booth met with the National Business Initiative and continued working on a joint project proposal that was started in 2018. He engaged with what is now the Moutonshoek Protected Environment collation of NGOs that are opposing the mining application in this area, and will be releasing a joint press statement on the matter next week. He also wrote minutes of the BirdLife/SANBI workshop on Species Best Practice Guidelines for Environmental Impact Assessments and followed up on matters arising from that workshop.
AVITOURISM & SPECIAL PROJECTS PROGRAMME
Martin Taylor completed a draft of the avifaunal regulations for Mozambique - the following week will be spent soliciting comments on aspects of the draft from different stakeholders in the region as well as allowing time for a translation of the document to be completed. A Skype call was held with Julia Pierini regarding the planned KAZA TFCA Bird Conservation Working Group meeting. Time was spent on the drafting of a feasibility study examining the viability of birding tourism options at different TFCAs. An East Atlantic Flyway task Force meeting was attended via Skype. A blog for the Swarovski Optik website covering the undertaking of wader counts on the East Coast of South Africa was completed. Binoculars for community guides were procured from Whyllo Distributors. A number of different administrative tasks were completed during the course of the week, including a contract between BirdLife South Africa and Inzalo Investment Holdings (Thornybush).
General Centre operations: The Wakkerstroom Centre has had quite a busy week. One of our highlights was hosting the Wakkerstroom Bird Club AGM on the 9th February. The guest speaker, Gus Mills, definitely drew in a crowd for the day. The club also decided to do something a little different regarding the catering – a Desert Delight. All attending members bought their favourite desert as part of a fundraising initiative. On Monday evening Kristi Garland attended a WBC committee dinner. Daphne Pyott has kept the Centre on the straight and narrow – attending to bookings and financial aspects from the past week. Bookings coming into the Centre have slowed a little in the past week and we can proudly report that we have already two weekends in March that are completely sold out. Kristi also spent time this week preparing the submission of the CAR counts data for ADU. Wednesday evening saw Kristi attending the WBC Birding Bonanza planning meeting – a birding weekend to be held in Wakkerstroom from the 11th – 13th October – watch for more details! Kristi has been working on the WBC Photographic Competition entries. Jan/Feb has been the competition’s highest number of entries. Last week the Centre also received delivery of our ride-on mower. Kristi has been taking opportunity of early mornings and late afternoons to mow our rather vast lawns. This machine has quartered the amount of time needed to attend to this gardening task.
Guiding operations: Lucky Ngwenya continues to deliver bird tours of a high standard. This week he reports sightings of Blue Korhaan, Rudd’s Lark and Pink-billed Lark at Fickland Pan, Eastern Long-billed Lark and Sentinal Rock-thrush on the Paulpietersburg Road, African Rail, Hottentot Teal and Little Rush Warbler at the Wetland, Bush black-cap, Barrett’s Warbler and Southern Boubou on the Jankieshoek Road, Blue Crane, Southern Bald Ibis and White Stork on the Amersfoort Road. The Centre can also report a flock of European Bee-eaters and White Stork on the BirdLife South Africa property in the last week.
Environmental Education: This week saw Kristi attending the junior birds clubs meetings on Wednesday (Country College) and Thursday (The Clay Edu-Centre). The Country College learners are still working within the theme of water and water birds. This week we focussed on research they had done into water organisms and how they form part of food chains in this aquatic environment. The learners have also completed audits of water use in their homes which we will be looking into on the next week or so. The Clay Edu-Centre learners focussed this week on water use in rural and urban environments, including the impact communities have on these systems. Through simple games, some of these issues were brought to the fore for discussion with the learners. Kristi has also been asked to assist the Clay high school learners with public speaking. Thursday was their first session where we discussed how to put a speech together . Each week the learners will either prepare a speech or be involved in unprepared speeches. They are all quite excited about this very different aspect to the bird club.
Working on Fire Team: The team working hard at further developing their awareness presentations to schools. Kristi has been assisting them in this, ensuring that each visit to a school or community event meets the schools objectives and has meaning for the participants. The team visited Wakkerstroom Primary on Thursday afternoon.
Mark Anderson was in Kimberley from Sunday to Tuesday, attending to flamingo matters at Kamfers Dam. He also attended a meeting hosted by DEA and the Northern Cape Department of Environment & Nature Conservation which aimed to establish the circumstances around the debacle and establish agreed-on plans for the release of the reared Lesser Flamingo chicks. The quarterly Fundraising Committee meeting was held on Wednesday. Mark had Skype meetings with a number of people, including Ian Barber (RSPB), the Seabird Conservation Programme Project Managers, and he and Fanie met with Rory Crawford (RSPB) about ATF budgets. Mark had a breakfast meeting with Jonathan Skypes, a Partner at Deloitte & Touche, and he hosted Franchesca Watson (the well known horticulturist) and friends at Isdell House on Friday.