SEABIRD CONSERVATION PROGRAMME

Common Oceans

Bronwyn Maree has been finalizing logistics, ahead of next week’s Peru workshop (including many last minute changes to bookings). She also prepared presentations, a template for other people to present, and had a project catch-up Skype meeting to ensure the various projects under BirdLife International and BirdLife South Africa are aligned. Nini van der Merwe finalised some outstanding workshop reports. Philip Augustyn completed daily harbour visits, prepared a new translator and completed a Port-based Outreach (PBO)  interview with a foreign tuna longliner in CT harbour. Makhudu Masotla joined him on some of these visits, as part of his internship training. He updated the PBO visit databases and made minor updates to the photo database of transshipment images. A recruiting process for additional interpreters has begun for the upcoming fishing season.

Albatross Task Force

Reason Nyengera has been working on the annual report for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Philip continue to train Makhudu as an observer for pelagic longline trips, assisted in managing the ATF’s pelagic longline database and finalized points for review by Andrea Angel.

Coastal seabirds

Andrew de Blocq, with support from Makhudu, focused on addressing the issues regarding Swift Terns nesting at the V&A Waterfront. This has involved site visits, discussions about potential collaboration with the newly-appointed V&A Wildlife Manager, and meetings with V&A executives and other stakeholders. Andrew also represented BirdLife South Africa at a high school outreach activity at the Two Oceans Aquarium. Taryn Morris developed a high level project proposal on an ecosystem approach to fisheries management for small pelagics, which she presented to the Responsible Fisheries Alliance Projects Working Group. She also worked on analysing non breeding data to present at the upcoming LAB conference in Langebaan. Christina Hagen met virtually with the group in Plettenberg Bay that is assisting with investigations into establishing a new penguin colony. She also processed camera-trap images for both new colony sites (de Hoop and Keurbooms), to quantify potential penguin predators at each site.

Other

Nini and Makhudu went to the SANAP warehouse to set up a station for dyeing the bait that will be used in the upcoming bait uptake trials on Marion Island. Nini, Andrea and Ross Wanless put together a comprehensive list of materials required for the Marion research, and started the process of sourcing suitable suppliers, and Nini lead the compilation of an animal ethics application. Andrea also conducted interviews for the two-person team that will be doing important research in the lead up to the planned mouse eradication at Marion Island, planned for 2020. Ross Wanless was heavily involved in Marion and Common Oceans work this week, but also found time to assist Mark Anderson’s efforts to develop a prospectus for a new Cape Town office for BirdLife South Africa and to attend to multiple reporting and admin priorities.

 

TERRESTRIAL BIRD CONSERVATION PROGRAMME

Mark Anderson, Hanneline Smit-Robinson, Robin Colyn and Carina Coetzer participated in the quarterly Ingula Partnership Steering Committee meeting. Linda van den Heever joined them for a larger external workshop at Ingula. Presentations were made at both meetings. The Terrestrial Bird Conservation Programme announced ground-breaking news on the discovery of a South African breeding site for White-winged Flufftail through the findings of BirdLife South Africa’s Robin Colyn and ecologist Alastair Campbell’s cleverly designed camera trap system. This changes everything we know about White-winged Flufftails up to now. http://birdlife.org.za/conservation/terrestrial-bird-conservation/threatened-species/white-winged-flufftails. Linda van den Heever met with Carina van Rooyen from the Africa Centre for Evidence on how to conduct a systematic review. Melissa Whitecross developed media content for the breaking White-winged Flufftail news story and, along with Hanneline and Linda, attended organising committee meetings for Flock on the West Coast 2018 and the annual Flufftail Festival.

Renewable energy

Sam Ralston and Andrew Jenkins met with the CSIR to discuss the scope of avifauna study that is necessary to inform the second phase of the Strategic Assessment for Wind and Solar Energy. Sam also met with Jon Smallie, Andrew Jenkins (avifaunal specialists), Gareth Tate (EWT), Ben Brimble and Katherine Persson (Windlab) to discuss additional studies to help address potential vulture issues at some of Windlab’s unbuilt, but approved wind farms. Sam also reviewed a manuscript submitted towards the Conference on Wind Energy and Wildlife Impacts 2017 Proceedings and updated BirdLife South Africa’s brochure on birds and wind energy.

 

IBA PROGRAMME

Landscape Analysis & Project Development

Dale Wright has been reviewing various pieces of environmental legislation, including the “Spatial Planning and Land Use Management” Act, National Forests Act and Mountain Catchment Areas Act, investigating the potential land protection offered, as well as reviewing information for the call for proposals to the Green Climate Fund, being implemented by SANBI.

Estuary IBA Conservation Project

Approval has been received for a funding application which BirdLife South Africa has been facilitating for the Nuwejaars Wetland Special Management Area (NWSMA). The project, being funded by the WWF-SA Elizabeth Harding Bequest for bird conservation, will be focused on bird habitat rehabilitation initiatives within the Agulhas Plain-Heuningnes Estuary IBA. The NWSMA is a biodiversity stewardship initiative involving a number of private landowners in the Agulhas Plain IBA.

Supporting Biodiversity Stewardship

Dale Wright spent time this week finalising content for the “Enhancing Biodiversity Stewardship in South Africa” report, which will soon be circulated for final comments before publication. He also assisted Candice Stevens with inputs to a scientific paper discussing the distinction between Privately Protected Areas (PPAs – Biodiversity Stewardship in South Africa) and other-effective area based mechanisms (OECMs) – which is a category being developed for the Convention on Biological Diversity’s global conservation targets for land protection. Dale joined a skype meeting with colleagues from SANBI and the International Land Conservation Network (ILCN) to discuss plans for the Cape Town leg of the upcoming ILCN “African Network” scoping visit to South Africa.

Karoo Research and Conservation Project

The Karoo Birds Research and Conservation Project was on a brief hiatus recently as Dr Alan Lee travelled to Borneo to facilitate an IUCN workshop regarding biodiversity responses to climate change. Although he did fit in some good birding, sadly the rapid rates of deforestation are serious cause for concern.

Regional and Global Key Biodiversity Areas

Bezeng Bezeng has been involved with coordinating national red listing of species and ecosystems, and the identification of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) in preparation for the up-coming red list workshop in Mozambique. Bezeng and Daniel Marnewick attended the first coordination meeting which was held on 13 February 2018 with various stakeholders involved in species and ecosystem red listing and KBA identification. A follow up meeting is scheduled for 5 March during the red list workshop to be held from 26 February until 6 March. Bezeng has been involved with organising meetings (Red List Committee meeting, and national red list alliance) in preparation for the up-coming red list committee meeting scheduled for May 2018. Three skype interviews were held with chairs of the Korean Plant Specialist Group, Wrasse Specialist Group and the Monitor Lizard Specialist Group and all IUCN SSC data was submitted to the Chair’s office in Venezuela. Lastly, Bezeng has been finalizing analyses to select three pilot African countries in which to do species and ecosystem red listing and KBA identification work.

Awareness for IBA & KBA Conservation

The False Bay Nature Reserve Birdathon organising committee met on Wednesday to discuss the 2018 event. It was decided to shift the event to spring this year, due to the current Cape Town water crisis and recent re-structuring in the City of Cape Town Municipality. Dale also attended the CAPE Partners Implementation Committee meeting on Thursday, which includes feedback from a number of our partner organisations working across the Cape Floristic Region. The meeting always provides a good opportunity to catch up on project progress and planning with partners, and discuss new opportunities in the region.

Wilge Stewardship Project

Ernst presented a talk at Ingula to the Eskom partnership and other role players about the Wilge Stewardship Project. The background of the project, progress so far and future proposals were reported on. The talk was followed by a number of questions by the audience and positive comments about what has been achieved so far.

Sneeuwberg Protected Environment Project

On Thursday evening Ernst attended the committee meeting of the Management Authority of the Sneeuwberg Protected Environment. He was asked to chair the meeting and a number of important issues were discussed. Some of these were admin related for example election of committee members, the creation of a bank account as well as membership fees. The implementation of the management plan was discussed in detail and BirdLife South Africa will continue to play a key role in this regard, especially with regard to species monitoring and how remote sensing can be used to compile the audit report as required by law. Ernst and Morne du Plessis also met a farmer near Memel who might be keen to become part of phase two of the Sneeuwberg PE. This land owner owns about 2 000 ha of pristine grassland. This property was targeted during phase one but due to certain land management practices by the previous land owner, which were not in line with legal requirements, was excluded. The new land owner is much more conservation minded.

Data Management Project

Ernst did some initial investigation about the possibility to store datasets on the cloud and what costs would be. This will feed into the data management policy which will be drafted later this year.

General

Ernst made considerable progress with the project to determine the protection status of birds in South Africa. Ernst needs to submit the final methodology to SANBI by 23 February and the final analysis by the end of the month.

 

POLICY & ADVOCACY PROGRAMME

National

Candice Stevens wrote a case study for the IUCN’s PARKS Journal this week regarding South Africa’s distinction between Privately Protected Areas (PPAs) and other forms of conservation initiatives with contributions from Dale Wright on Other Effective Area Based Mechanisms (OECMs). Candice focused on the legal and policy frameworks to provide a clear illustration for the global protected areas community on this nuanced topic which is key to the post-2020 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Candice also had a series of interesting scoping meetings regarding advancements in tax incentives this week, including: community tax benefits with Steven Collins (African Foundation); SANBI regarding the extension of tax capacity; Kevin McCann (Conservation Outcomes) regarding tax updates; and Samir Whitaker (BirdLife International) regarding natural capital.

Advocacy

Jonathan Booth prepared a fundraising campaign for Policy and Advocacy, worked on guidance documents for the Advocacy Structure, and engaged with stakeholders on other advocacy issues in the Dullstroom region and Lesotho. Jonathan also did the Duzi Canoe Marathon this week.

 

AVITOURISM & SPECIAL PROJECTS PROGRAMME

Martin Taylor participated in BirdLife Africa Secretariat Network and Capacity Development meeting. A rapid assessment of BirdLife Zimbabwe against BirdLife partner criteria was undertaken on request from the BirdLife Africa secretariat. A meeting with the Peace Parks Foundation was held to discuss the development of birding tourism in the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation area. A meeting with Miguel Lecoq, manager of the MAVA Coastal Seabirds Project, was attended in order to finalise budgets for that project.  Edits to the 2018 State of South Africa’s Birds Report were completed and planning for the printing of this publication undertaken. Terms of reference for the establishment of a bird conservation steering committee for the KAZA Trans Frontier Conservation Area were drafted. Work was completed on several reports. Ian Owtram undertook an Recognition of Prior Learning assessment on David Letsaolo at Kurisa Moya, Limpopo and worked on the logistics for attending the Wildlife Economy Indaba to be held in East London, Eastern Cape in March.

 

WAKKERSTROOM CENTRE

We have been all systems go this week on the National Lotteries Biodiversity Stewardship Project.  David Nkosi spent time finishing up an initial visit with the school principals and teachers, whilst Kristi Garland has been working on changes for the project, based on the needs analysis completed with each school.  Kristi dedicated some time as well, to arranging the introductory workshops for each node of schools, grouped according to geographical locations.  Our first workshop is scheduled for Tuesday here at the Centre, Wednesday just outside Utrecht and Thursday in Dirkiesdorp.  Kristi and David are super excited to get this project rolling.  In between these visits and scheduling, Daphne Pyott has been attending to bookings for both accommodation and guides.  The Centre also hosted two Wakkerstroom Bird Club meetings this week, a committee meeting on Monday morning and a special meeting on Friday afternoon to discuss various items around the junior bird club as well as further branding opportunities.  On Tuesday, Kristi met with a local property evaluator to discuss and re-evaluate the BirdLife South Africa Wakkerstroom Property.  Wednesday saw Kristi, David and Lucky Ngwenya meeting with Fiona Martin from AFlead, a film group who is looking at featuring Wakkerstroom’s social and environmental community projects in a segment to be screened in April 2018.  We showcased what the Centre has been up to with the community, junior bird clubs, the National Lotteries Project as well as Avitourism in the broader Wakkerstroom area.  In the afternoon, Kristi and David visited the Country College Junior Bird Club in Volksrust and started them on their first mini-monitoring project, with a focus on five common birds found in their school premises.  Each week an additional five birds will be added to this this and ultimately leading this group to a bird quiz near the end of term 1.  Thursday morning saw Kristi attending a meeting with the Wakkerstroom Interest Group in preparation for an upcoming meeting with local municipality in two weeks’ time and in the afternoon, meeting with the Clay Edu-Centre Junior Bird Club along with Carol Preston.  Friday was an office day for Kristi and David until the afternoon when David and Lucky visited the Smiley’s Junior Bird Club.  Lucky reports the following sightings for this week: White-bellied Bustard at Vaalbank, Yellow-breasted Pipit on the Paulpietersburg Road and Botha’s Lark in Daggakraal.  The Working on Fire team has been busy this week in the grassland in front of the Centre, slashing a few areas which has grown extremely tall with all the recent rain, as well as removing of alien vegetation.  We are glad to report that we now have an area in the grassland on which the vulnerable Nerine platypetala has sprung up.  This has caused great excitement in the whole community and especially for the local contingent of CREW.  Saturday saw Kristi assisting the Wakkerstroom Bird Club with the launch of their recently donated inflatable boat.  This will definitely assist in controlling the spread of reed in the wetland stream and other areas.  The Club will officially launch and showcase this asset to club members on the 3rd March down at the wetland in celebration of World Wildlife Day. 

 

BUSINESS DIVISION

Several meetings took place at Isdell House during the past week: Audit & Risk Committee, Northern Bird Club Forum meeting, Flock on the West Coast meeting, Management Committee and Marketing Committee. The Ingula Partnership and other Ingula meetings were held on Thursday and Friday. Mark Anderson was the guest speaker at the BirdLife Port Natal AGM on Saturday.

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