Preventing extinctions

Hanneline Smit-Robinson was on leave most of the week, but she did attend and present at the White-winged Flufftail National Working group meeting hosted at the Department of Environmental Affairs’ offices in Pretoria. Carina Coetzer and Sakhile Mthalane completed several avifaunal surveys at Ingula Nature Reserve. Carina also contacted some of the Wilge Stewardship landowners, and created two infographics for BirdLife South Africa’s involvement at Ingula. Linda van den Heever completed an important funding proposal for vulture conservation. Melissa Whitecross spent the week finalising the first complete draft of a scientific article on Secretarybird dispersal. Melissa attended the Wits Bird Club committee meeting to offer insights into encouraging youth members to join the club. Robin Colyn spent the majority of the week continuing analyses as part of the Highland Grassland Threatened Species Project. This study aims to assess the status, conservation and management requirements of our endemic and threatened highland grassland species. Robin also concluded final survey design plans for the upcoming Red Lark surveys in the Nama Karoo and the White-winged Flufftail surveys in Ethiopia. The climate change modelling framework utilised in the resilient conservation network project was further developed this week, incorporating multiple new facets of climate change theory and parameters. Nndwa Muhali joined the Seabird Conservation Programme team for Fisheries Compliance Officer training in Hout Bay, as well as seabird handling training at SANCCOB.



Common Oceans

Philip Augustyn completed multiple foreign-flagged vessel visits along with Fisheries Compliance Officers (FCOs) for the Port-Based Outreach Program. He also trained eight FCOs in Hout Bay on seabird compliance with Bronwyn Maree and Reason Nyengera. This will equip them to be able to more effectively monitor seabird bycatch mitigation measures on tuna longline vessels and provide us with additional data on the use of these measures. Philip, Bronwyn and Reason met with the Deputy Director of Offshore Compliance to discuss the potential training of FCOs at sea in the future. Philip and Bronwyn finalised all outstanding reports for the PBO program in Cape Town and of Transshipment photos. Bronwyn also submitted various reports and a proposal to the Common Oceans project management team. Nini van der Merwe engaged with a number of country representatives that are participating in the final Global Seabird Bycatch Assessment Project. She also worked with Rose, Fanie and Ross to complete and submit a slew of financial reports, and the project progress report, in preparation for the July project steering committee meeting.

Coastal seabirds

Christina Hagen attended an African Penguin Biodiversity Management Plan meeting to finalise actions that will be included in the updated plan which is being drafted. She also continued working on the management plan for the penguin colony at De Hoop and met with Roelf Daling, the artist who is making penguin decoys for the new colony project. Taryn Morris and Andrew de Blocq attended the Responsible Fisheries Alliance (RFA) Projects working group meeting on Wednesday, where Taryn Morris presented an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management proposal for the small pelagic fishery. They also prepared for some upcoming field work to assist Dr Richard Sherley with collecting penguin tracking data at Robben Island. In addition, Andrew and Reason Nyengera attended seabird triage training at SANCCOB.

Albatross Task Force

Andrea Angel attended the RFA training working group meeting where the new training agreement between the members was finalised. She also presented an update to the RFA projects working group on the way forward for the Bird Mitigation Plans project that the ATF has been running since 2011. Makhudu Masotla spent the first half of the week on leave with his family, and then finalised data entry for CapMarine from his recent trip on a pelagic longline vessel.

Marion Island

Nini van der Merwe engaged with Flume, the digital marketing agency assisting on the design aspect of the Marion fundraising website. Together with the web-developer, she is working to get the website finalised for the upcoming launch. Ross Wanless discussed matters around the National Geographic grant, which BirdLife South Africa will manage but which requires a bit of bureaucratic hoop-jumping. Ross also engaged with Guy Preston, the government lead for the project, after Guy met with the Minister of DEA.


Ross dedicated significant time to planning and preparation for his participation in a workshop in Abidjan at the end of this month, where he is assisting with facilitating discussions on overcoming challenges of the fragmented governance of the high seas. He also worked with colleagues in West Africa and Bronwyn to get a contract underway for Brownyn to develop and deliver training in observer work and ecosystem approaches to fisheries concepts, for the bycatch programme in W Africa. He, Bronwyn and Philip also discussed how BirdLife South Africa could assist BirdLife Europe marine colleagues in delivering training needs for observers in key countries in the Mediterranean.



Landscape Analysis & Project Development

Dale Wright finalised and submitted the Grassland Landscape Protected Area Expansion Project concept note to the Rainforest Trust. This work will aim to consolidate and expand on existing biodiversity stewardship and threatened grassland species research work.

Estuary IBA Conservation Project

Giselle Murison met with landowners at the Berg River and Klein River estuary project sites to discuss the proclamation process for a Protected Environment and Nature Reserve for their properties, respectively. She spent much of the rest of the week finalising and submitting comments on a Basic Assessment for a development proposal at a property at the Berg River estuary and on an Environmental Impact Assessment for a nearby proposed Photovoltaic Solar Energy Facility. Dale Wright met with the landowners of the Moutonshoek Protected Environment on Monday to hand-over poster templates for their environmental management plan and annual plans of operation. The group also discussed the next steps for the Moutonshoek Protected Environment and scheduled the first meeting of the Landowners Association.

Supporting Biodiversity Stewardship

Daniel Marnewick had a number of meetings with co-organising committee members to begin finalising the next draft of the Biodiversity Stewardship Guideline. This is an exciting document which aims to support the improved implementation of biodiversity stewardship to facilitate Privately Protected Area declarations.

Data Management Project

Ernst Retief submitted the first draft of the Data Management Policy to Programme Managers in the Conservation Division for comment. The policy sets out how primary data will be managed within BirdLife South Africa.

Regional and Global Key Biodiversity Areas

Simeon Bezeng, together with Daniel Marnewick and Domitilla Raimondo, completed the selection of the three pilot countries for the implementation of the Biodiversity Assessment for Spatial Planning in Africa (BASPA) project. The three countries selected are Kenya, Gabon and Cameroon but support will also be given to Ethiopia and Mozambique. Bezeng has also been working on a Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Bio-Bridge funding initiative to potentially fund the BASPA project. Daniel Marnewick spent the week planning the next KBA Community online seminar to support countries to establish their KBA National Coordination Groups. This will take place in early July. Daniel was also elected as the interim KBA Regional Focal Point for Africa.

Awareness for IBA & KBA Conservation

Ernst Retief submitted the fence collision document for final design and layout. He also received the first version of the Memel Birding Routes Document and submitted comments. It is hoped that both documents will be finalised before the end of the month.  Daniel Marnewick prepared his presentation on ‘KBAs in Africa’ for his talk at next week’s Biodiversity Planning Forum symposium. Dale Wright met with Mrs Gaynor Rupert on Tuesday morning to update her on progress in the IBA Programme, both regionally and nationally, and discuss the future plans for the programme. On Friday morning Dale attended the CAPE Partners Implementation Committee (CIC) quarterly meeting. The CIC meetings always provide important updates on regional initiatives and a chance to network with many of our colleagues working in this area.




Candice Stevens worked on a number of summaries, information sheets and stories relating to the success of section 37D for use by the United Nations Development Programme and the IUCN. Candice is hoping that the tax work will be showcased on a global platform of solutions for protected areas. Candice also had meetings with EY regarding the Corporate Conservation Collaboration and met with senior tax directors in this regard. Additionally, she spent time finalising information and layout for the new Policy & Advocacy webpage to be hosted on the new BirdLife South Africa website.


Jonathan Booth attended an EIA Taskforce meeting facilitated by the Endangered Wildlife Trust, the purpose of which was to initiate a process of identifying and working on significant issues in the EIA process. He also researched a number of new coal mining threats to the Devon Grasslands IBA and engaged with the mining companies responsible for these. The EIA for Polihali Dam in Lesotho (Phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project) was released, which Jonathan reviewed and prepared comments to submit in response to it. This dam will result in the flooding of 180 Southern Bald Ibis nests, which represents 10% of the known global population of the species.


Martin Taylor met with Ant Maddock and Michael Mills to review the proposed log frame for a project in Angola which is being put forward for consideration to the Darwin Initiative.  Contractual issues relating to an upcoming SPEED+ funded project in Mozambique focusing on a review of avifaunal related legislation was dealt with. A meeting was held with Charles Thornton-Kolbe to finalise the details surrounding PIB our scheduled for September 2018. Time was spent on costing out three different tours for 2018 as well as archiving bird guide files. Lungile Mtenyane, a trainee guide involved in BirdLife South Africa’s learnership programme, spent the week in Grietjie Private Nature Reserve on a 4x4 driving course. Conversations was were held with a lodge manager regarding her placement and an interview appointment was set up. Work was undertaken on a business plan for the Great KAZA Birding Route.



Mark Anderson spent the week investigating the possibility of using the MSC Musica for another Flock at Sea voyage.