Birds are excellent flagship species and valuable indicators of the environment as places that are rich in bird species are often abundant in other forms of biodiversity. The presence of birds indicates a healthy environment and thriving ecosystem. BirdLife South Africa conserves our country’s birds. By focusing on birds, the sites and the habitats on which they depend, BirdLife South Africa hopes to improve the quality of life for birds, for other wildlife and ultimately for people.
Each year a Bird of the Year is chosen by BirdLife South Africa. Bird of the Year is one of BirdLife South Africa’s annual initiatives for creating awareness about birds and bird habitat conservation. Educating people is one of the key components of BirdLife South Africa’s conservation work. The aim of the project is to choose a bird species and focus education and other activities on it during the coming year and improve public awareness about the species and the need to protect the species (and related species) and its habitat.
The Bird of the Year for 2014 is the Tristan Albatross (Diomedea dabbenena)
Seabirds, particularly albatrosses, are becoming increasingly threatened and at a faster rate globally than any other group of birds; they face a wide variety of threats. Many declines are closely linked to the expansion of commercial longline fisheries in seabird foraging areas, combined with the impacts of invasive alien species at nesting colonies.
The 2013 IUCN Red List reveals that the Tristan Albatross is one of only two Critically Endangered species that occur in South Africa (including territorial waters). The listing is a result of the bird’s extremely small breeding range (it is essentially a single-island endemic) and an exceptionally rapid projected population decline over three generations (70 years).
The population is decreasing through a combination of unsustainable deaths from tuna longline fishing and the incredible damage that predatory, introduced mice are doing at Gough Island, which lay waste to around half the chicks produced every season. BirdLife South Africa is collaborating with the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology in tracking juvenile birds. One of them entered South African waters, near Cape Town, and perhaps lucky birders on a pelagic trip could even see this individual in future!
The Tristan Albatross will be an ambassador for all albatrosses and other seabirds.
The Albatross Task Force is one of BirdLife South Africa’s flagship projects and the team has done exceptional work, recognised globally, to reduce albatross deaths.
The Bird of the Year 2014 poster and pin badge were launched at the BirdLife South Africa AGM held on 15 March 2014. Bird-of-the-Year poster
Please contact Kathleen April Okoye on 011 789 1122 or firstname.lastname@example.org to place your order.
Activity 1 - Albatross Adventure Game (©RSPB)
Activity 2 - Reduce reuse and recycle - contribute to saving seabirds
Activity 3 - Working out population numbers
Activity 4 - Albatrosses in poetry
Activity 5 - Colouring-in Templates
Activity 6 - Crossword and word search
Activity 7 - Become a force for the albatrosses
For more information about the Bird of the Year initiative, please email email@example.com