Sponsorship for three LAB attendees
This year’s Learn About Birds (LAB) conference, which forms part of Flock to Wilderness from 24 to 28 May, will see three emerging researchers give presentations, their attendance generously sponsored by Dunefields Private Nature Reserve.
Dunefields nestles in a mosaic of fynbos and dune thicket vegetation on the Garden Route coastline and is home to creatures ranging from the Cape flightless dung beetle to the occasional Cape leopard. The nature reserve is managed by Dr Tiaan and Zanri Strydom, who strive to promote its biodiversity and protect its animals, as well as the habitats on which they depend. With most of its fences dropped, Dunefields forms part of a coastal corridor that encourages animal movement across the landscape. Its team conducts important marine research, including on Cape Gannets, and the LAB conference at Wilderness gives them an opportunity to share their findings and discuss the importance of many bird species in the Garden Route environment.
Attendance at this conference can be very important to a career in terms of networking and sharing knowledge, so Dunefields has sponsored three deserving young ornithologists. They are Benjamin Murphy, Tegan Walker and Chanel Hauvette.
Benjamin Murphy, from Frankfurt, Germany, completed an undergraduate degree at the University of Edinburgh before undertaking a Master’s in conservation and biodiversity, with a focus on Blue Tits, at the University of Exeter. He started his PhD in 2018, studying Fork-tailed Drongos in the Kalahari with the Hot Birds Research Project.
‘I am grateful for this sponsorship to attend LAB in Wilderness as it gives me an opportunity to connect with a wider audience and identify future opportunities for research on birds in South Africa,’ says Benjamin. ‘And, as I only started birding in 2017, I am particularly excited to hone my birding skills alongside some of the best birders in the business! I’m looking forward to presenting my talk on how Fork-tailed Drongos mitigate the costs of hot days by increasing activity during cooler periods, and to connecting with people face to face – the advantage of in-person conferences.’
Tegan Walker is a second-year Master’s student at Nelson Mandela University in Gqeberha. Her interest in birds grew after she volunteered at the SANCCOB rehabilitation centre where first-hand experience with seabirds led her to a project on avian ecology. Tegan began her research soon afterwards and in 2022 collected data and samples on Marion Island. Her work focuses on the influence of diet on seabirds’ breeding success and forms part of a larger initiative that will provide baseline data prior to the eradication of mice on Marion Island. Her presentation at LAB is titled ‘The influence of diet on Brown Skua breeding success at Marion Island’.
‘Presenting at this conference will provide me with constructive feedback from experienced ornithologists,’ says Tegan. ‘I am looking forward to meeting scientists from around the country and developing my public speaking and networking skills. I am grateful to have been selected for this sponsorship.’
Chanel Hauvette has spent the past 13 years working on South Africa’s coast between Cape Town and St Francis Bay and gaining experience in wildlife rehabilitation, environmental education and marine research. Having recently been appointed a senior marine field ranger for CapeNature, she is now also adding law enforcement and managing reserves and marine protected areas to her repertoire. Chanel has developed a particular interest in rescuing marine animals, especially seabirds, and has been a volunteer for the Plett Stranding Network for 10 years and manager for the past three. At LAB she will talk about how the network responds to different seabirds, both shore-based and pelagic, found in distress along the Garden Route coast.
‘This sponsorship means such a lot to me,’ says Chanel. ‘I have been working as a marine conservationist with a keen interest in birds for 10 years now and have accumulated considerable experience. But I’m always looking for ways to extend that experience and gain additional knowledge, and to collaborate with fellow conservationists and scientists. What better opportunity could I ask for than to attend this conference and even be able to present!’
There is still time to register to attend the 6th LAB conference. To find out more, visit birdlife.org.za/support-us/events/learn-about-birds-lab-conference/ or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
DR MELISSA WHITECROSS, LANDSCAPE CONSERVATION PROGRAMME MANAGER
Secret Secretarybird nests
Secretarybird nests, built on a platform of sticks and lined with grass and other herbaceous plants, are well hidden at the top of small, thorny trees and shrubs in grassland. The adult birds start building well in advance of the breeding season, carrying sticks and tufts of grass to the chosen tree, and once the nest is complete they will begin the breeding attempt. Nests can be re-used for a number of years but will eventually start to sink deeper into the canopy until they are no longer viable. Then the process begins again in another tree.
The easiest way to spot an active nest is to watch for birds standing on the same tree for several days in a row. Other tell-tale signs are occasional Secretarybird feathers lying around and multiple signs of white excrement projected from the tree canopy. Pairs may also roost in a nest tree when they are not breeding, so be sure to check frequently for activity.
Do you know of any Secretarybird nests in your area? Please report them to the Secretarybird Conservation Project via our website here or contact me directly at email@example.com. This will help us to increase our knowledge of the breeding activity and distribution of these iconic birds in South Africa.
CASSIE CARSTENS, SECRETARYBIRD CONSERVATION OFFICER
A new look…
In the latest issue of African Birdlife you will find many of your favourite regular features – rarity sightings, the FitzPatrick report, SABAP news, Bird of the Year and your own contributions in Inbox and Garden Watch – but also a few new ones. Look out for a seasonal approach to birding, a conversation with a well-known personality in the birding field, and an offbeat introduction to a familiar bird species. Plus there are fascinating articles on birding in Magoebaskloof, decades of research on the Knysna Estuary, bird behaviour in the Kgalagadi and a stunning portfolio of birds in Uganda. Be sure not to miss the new-look magazine!
Forest Birding Workshop
Forest birding is rather difficult at times and can often be downright frustrating. Small birds remain hidden in the foliage and will emerge in brief spurts, only to flit away again within seconds. And the calls are confusing, ringing back and forth between the large trunks of the surrounding trees, sounding like different species all at the same time. But fear not, because there is light at the end of the trail.
At BirdLife South Africa’s Flock to Wilderness this year there will be an opportunity for you to sharpen your forest birding skills and knowledge. Presented by Mike Bridgeford, local Garden Route expert, and myself, a forest bird guide, this Learn About Birds (LAB) Forest Birding Workshop will be held on Wednesday, 24 May from 14h00 to 16h00. Topics such as forest ecology and bird calls and identification, as well as some key tips and tricks, will be shared. If you plan to track down a few forest lifers in the near future, this workshop is a great place to start.
The workshop costs R250 per person and can be attended in person or virtually. You do not have to have booked for the entire LAB conference to attend, but to qualify for a spot in the workshop you must have booked for the AGM and luncheon if you are not attending the full LAB conference.
More information about Flock to Wilderness and registration details for the various events and workshops can be found at birdlife.org.za/support-us/events/flock-to-wilderness-2023/
CASSIE CARSTENS, SECRETARYBIRD CONSERVATION OFFICER
BirdLife South Africa’s 94th AGM
BirdLife South Africa’s 94th Annual General Meeting will be a hybrid event, taking place in person at the Wilderness Hotel in Wilderness, Western Cape, and online via Zoom on Saturday, 27 May 2023 from 11h00 to 13h30. The in-person meeting will form part of Flock to Wilderness 2023 and will be followed by a lunch at the hotel.
Delegates wishing to attend the AGM in person and the lunch must book via the Flock to Wilderness registration portal. There is no charge to attend the AGM; the lunch, however, will cost R230 per person.
You can join the virtual AGM via Zoom by using the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_flVQ1eB3SUSj1Vfy2QlO0Q. To find out more about Flock to Wilderness activities, excursions and talks, as well as the Learn About Birds conference, click here.
Should you wish to view the minutes of the previous AGM or the agenda for this year’s AGM, or download a proxy form for this year’s AGM, please go to the AGM web page here.
The Gill Memorial Medal, the highest honour bestowed by BirdLife South Africa, will be awarded for an outstanding lifetime contribution to ornithology in southern Africa at the AGM.
If you have any questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
DR ISABEL HUMAN, HR MANAGER AND EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT
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Free Bird of the Year resources
BirdLife South Africa is pleased to share an incredible range of educational material about this year’s Bird of the Year, the beautiful and endemic Cape Parrot. The material includes colouring-in sheets, infographics and posters, among other resources. Head over to the Bird of the Year web page here to browse or download these free resources and share them with family, colleagues or school classes.
We thank the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust for its support of the Bird of the Year initiative.
ANDY WASSUNG, COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
You could be a winner!
BirdLife South Africa, in partnership with Canon, is offering you a chance to win great prizes in the 2023 photography competition. Entries are coming in and already we’re being treated to some amazing images in various categories.
There is still time to sort through your favourite bird photographs, as long as you submit them before 31 May 2023. The categories that will be awarded are: Grand Prize (overall winner); Action; Portrait; Birds in the Environment; Garden; with sub-categories for Endemic Species; Threatened Species; Youth; People’s Choice and a Voting Prize, for someone who votes for their favourite image in the People’s Choice category (after submissions close and shortlisted candidates are made public).
There are some incredible prizes on offer, including an all-inclusive, three-night stay for two people at Tswalu Private Wildlife Reserve to the value of R237 960, plus the use of Canon’s latest top-of-the-range equipment, valued at more than R1.5-million, for the duration of the Tswalu stay. You can read more about the various prizes on offer here.
Entries cost R300 for up to four images (if you’re not a member of BirdLife South Africa) or R100 for up to four images (for paid-up BirdLife South Africa members), and you can enter as many times as you like.
To familiarise yourself with the rules, prizes, categories and how to enter, please visit the photography competition web page at https://www.birdlife.org.za/photography-competition-2023/
ANDY WASSUNG, COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
The African Bird Fair 2023
Plans for an exciting and jam-packed African Bird Fair 2023 are well under way. Join BirdLife South Africa for the biggest birding event in Africa and you’ll enjoy an epic line-up of speakers and exhibitors and the opportunity to connect with other birders in person or online around the world.
This year we will be hosting the annual African Bird Fair at the Country Club Johannesburg – Woodmead, which has a significant bushveld/grassland area, is home to an impressive range of flora and fauna and is a wonderful environment for bush and birding walks. This places the event close to both Sandton and Pretoria.
As the event will be taking place in midwinter, we have booked the aptly named conference suite, the Aviary, which comprises three venues: the Kingfisher, the Barbet and the Starling rooms, situated in the main clubhouse building. There you will find our sponsors and optics corner and can try the latest Swarovski, ZEISS and Canon equipment or get your binoculars or scopes cleaned. You can also attend inspiring talks, presentations, workshops and book signings, browse and shop for art, books and more, and participate in an online auction. Bird walks will also be part of the day’s activities, and they close with our renowned quiz, which is sure to test your birding knowledge amid a lot of fun.
As this is a pan-African event, our talks will be available across the continent and the rest of the world via Zoom to cater to birding enthusiasts further afield. Leading up to the event our team will host a line-up of Conservation Conversation talks the week before – not-to-be-missed topics of continental interest!
Running alongside this event will be our colouring-in competition, in partnership with Faansie Peacock, to encourage the next generation of budding bird conservationists (7–13-year-olds). They will be asked to interpret a piece of Faansie’s artwork and will stand a chance of winning a signed copy of the newly revised Faansie’s Bird Book.
All proceeds from The African Bird Fair, including ticket, auction and shop sales, contribute to our work to conserve South Africa’s birds and the fragile habitats they call home. Come and connect in person with like-minded people on a sunny winter’s day! Registration details will be announced soon. Watch our social media platforms and our website for further information. We look forward to seeing you there!
CLARE NEALL, EVENTS MANAGER
Atlas bash in Lesotho
From 16 to 21 March an atlas bash was held in Lesotho, with nine keen birders and four staff members of the Lesotho Highlands Development Agency taking part. Its two-fold purpose was to collect distribution data about bird species in the catchment of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project in the Mokhotlong region for the agency and to assist with BirdLife South Africa’s current red listing process. The data were obtained using the SABAP2 protocol and point data were collected by means of the BirdLasser mobile app.
Before the atlas bash began, Ernst Retief talked about SABAP2, its purpose and protocol and Dr Melissa Whitecross presented a course on grassland ecology and the identification of grassland birds. Additional practical training was provided once the bash got under way.
In total, 2601 records for 135 species were logged on the BirdLasser app. Full and ad hoc protocol atlas cards were submitted for 46 pentads, and five pentads received their first full protocol card. The atlas bash made a substantial contribution to SABAP2 coverage in Lesotho, but there is still much to do. Very few pentads in Lesotho have four atlas cards, which is an important target for analysis purposes.
Interesting birds observed included Southern Bald Ibis, Mountain Pipit, Drakensberg Rockjumper, Bearded Vulture, Sentinel Rock Thrush, Drakensberg Prinia, Sickle-winged Chat, Black Stork, Lanner Falcon, Secretarybird and Cape and Bearded vultures. A memorable sighting was of more than 1000 Amur Falcons leaving their roost not far from El Paso Lodge, the base for the bash. However, atlasing in Lesotho is hard work and travelling is slow, as the roads are not in great condition. Even so, the bash was great fun, we learned a lot and we are proud of our contribution. We encourage birders visiting Lesotho to please submit as many atlas cards as possible; even ad hoc cards are of great value.
Thank you to Palesa Monongoaha (environmental branch manager), Refiloe Ntšohi (senior officer for biodiversity), Mabari Lebamang Mabari (rangeland management officer) and Mosioua Bereng (curator at the Katse Botanical Garden) for facilitating this expedition from the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority.
ERNST RETIEF, SPATIAL PLANNING AND DATA PROJECT MANAGER, AND CARINA PIENAAR, INGULA AND GRASSLANDS CONSERVATION PROJECT MANAGER
Flufftail monitoring season ends
Another monitoring season has been completed, as March marks the end of the White-winged Flufftail’s breeding season. Since the discovery and formal description of this species in 1877, there have been only a few scattered sightings of it in South Africa. BirdLife South Africa established three long-term study sites in the Dullstroom area in 2020 to find out more about this mysterious bird.
Given its highly cryptic behaviour, little is known about the biology of the White-winged Flufftail. To observe the species, we place 17 motion-detecting camera traps and an acoustic device in three high-altitude wetlands where it is known to occur. Camera-trap tunnels were developed by BirdLife South Africa to improve detection rates. These tunnels mimic the dense sedge undergrowth used by the White-winged Flufftail to elude predators. At each monitoring site, 12 of the cameras are placed on the tunnels’ frames to capture images of birds walking through the structure. The remaining five cameras are placed in open patches in the wetland. The acoustic device is set up at the centre of each site to record calls of the White-winged Flufftail within a 50m radius.
For the season just past, Kyle and several colleagues deployed the monitoring equipment in October 2022 and retrieved it last month. During this time, he measured and collected several environmental variables that will help to explain the patterns that he observes from the monitoring equipment. It is hoped that more breeding records of chicks and juveniles have been captured by the devices to tell us more about these critical life stages. The knowledge obtained from the monitoring data will be used to help guide conservation managers and landowners to better manage wetlands for the flufftails. Every monitoring season improves our ability to conserve the species and bring it back from the brink of extinction.
We are grateful to Dr Jess Briner, Isabel Micklem, Abigail Ramudzuli, Bruce Dyer, Dalu Ngcobo and Brendan Lloyd, as well as Sharon Mahlangu, Patrick Serakwana, Werner Muller, Eulalia Jordaan, Refentse Phetla and Wynand Muller of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency, for their assistance with field work.
MARLIZE MULLER, CONSERVATION BIOLOGY INTERN, AND DR KYLE LLOYD, WETLAND CONSERVATION PROJECT MANAGER/ROCKJUMPER FELLOW OF WHITE-WINGED FLUFFTAIL CONSERVATION
South Africa’s 29th Ramsar site
With an estimated population size of fewer than 250 mature individuals, the White-winged Flufftail is listed as globally Critically Endangered. Ethiopia and South Africa are the only two countries where it is known to breed, and in the latter country there is only one confirmed site: Middelpunt Wetland.
In 1994 a trust was set up by a group of citizen scientists who regularly found the species at the site. Dullstroom Trout Farm, the owner of the wetland, has supported BirdLife South Africa’s research to better understand the species’ biology and in the course of a monitoring survey in 2018 the first evidence of breeding in South Africa was recorded. The trout farm had joined the Greater Lakenvlei Protected Environment the previous year to safeguard the extensive high-altitude wetland systems in the area from external threats. Although this form of protection limits activities that could threaten biodiversity, it does not prevent them entirely.
South Africa is a contracting party to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals and the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA). Under both treaties, the White-winged Flufftail receives the highest level of protection. In 2008, the International Single Species Action Plan for the White-winged Flufftail was adopted. BirdLife South Africa has been acting as the coordinator of the AEWA White-winged Flufftail International Working Group since 2015 and was instrumental in helping the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment to coordinate the working group’s third meeting, held in South Africa in 2019. At this meeting, it was decided that more formal protection was needed for Middelpunt Wetland to ensure its long-term protection.
BirdLife South Africa gained the backing of the provincial conservation authority, Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency, and identified the importance of a neighbouring property belonging to Eland’s Valley Guest Farm. Both the trout farm and the guest farm supported the declaration of the site as a nature reserve and the application process was initiated in early 2021. The two farms formed the management authority, Middelpunt Nature Reserve Landowners Association, and entered into a co-management agreement with BirdLife South Africa and Middelpunt Wetland Trust. With assistance from Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency, the private nature reserve was officially declared on 14 October 2022.
Middelpunt Nature Reserve not only is an important site for White-winged Flufftail, but provides habitat to a diversity of floral and faunal species. The ancient wetland also provides ecosystem services to the surrounding farming community and its 2m-deep peat layer is an extensive carbon sink that sequesters carbon from the atmosphere. It is for these reasons that the nature reserve was considered for designation as a Ramsar site. The Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty that was established in 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar and provides a framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. There are well over 2000 Ramsar sites listed by more than 160 countries that are contracting parties to the treaty. South Africa was one of the first contracting parties and now has 29 wetlands designated as Ramsar sites. The 29th, Middelpunt Nature Reserve, was officially designated on 15 March 2023, becoming the world’s 2501st Ramsar site.
We would like to thank Dullstroom Trout Farm, Eland’s Valley Guest Farm, Middelpunt Wetland Trust, Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Rockjumper Birding Tours, Bickel Conservation, the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, Jones & Wagener, Eskom through the Ingula Partnership, Elandskloof Trout Farm and the many individuals who have contributed to research in and the conservation of Middelpunt Wetland. Middelpunt Nature Reserve is a closed, private reserve dedicated to the conservation of the White-winged Flufftail. More information can be found at:
White-winged Flufftail – https://www.birdlife.org.za/what-we-do/landscape-conservation/what-we-do/wetlands-grasslands/white-winged-flufftail/
Middelpunt Nature Reserve – https://www.birdlife.org.za/what-we-do/landscape-conservation/protecting-ecosystems/
Middelpunt Nature Reserve Ramsar Site – https://rsis.ramsar.org/ris/2501
DR KYLE LLOYD, WETLAND CONSERVATION PROJECT MANAGER/ROCKJUMPER FELLOW OF WHITE-WINGED FLUFFTAIL CONSERVATION
A strategic staff getaway to Wakkerstroom
A lot was packed into the two days the BirdLife South Africa staff spent together at their annual strategic meeting at the Wakkerstroom Tourism and Education Centre in March. There were updates on conservation work – how lead affects Cape and White-backed vultures, Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs) work in the Western Cape, and progress from the attempt to establish a penguin colony at De Hoop. There were also presentations on subjects such as project management and stakeholder engagement; discussions about fundraising and radio interviews, among other topics; and training sessions on how to carry out point counts and use DISTANCE software.
In the presentation about stakeholder engagement, for example, Dr Simeon Bezeng took the staff through key lessons, such as knowing that we are all stakeholders in a project; that we all engage with stakeholders; and that we should be aware of how we connect with different stakeholders. Knowing how to communicate with different parties who have different interests helps ensure beneficial engagement and makes it more likely that the desired outcomes for all parties will be achieved. This skill of communicating effectively with stakeholders is vital because they can make or break a project, whether it is re-establishing a penguin colony, trialling new conservation projects at sea or getting a sensitive wetland declared a nature reserve.
We were also very fortunate to host Ian Thomas, who travelled to Wakkerstroom from Plettenberg Bay to present a talk about what we can learn about formidable and effective teamwork within an organisation from a lion pride. This inspiring presentation kept our team engaged throughout, with the main lesson from the presentation being that building strong teams depends on trust, perseverance and patience.
The staff meeting was not all about presentations and talks, however. There were also opportunities for birding, socialising, games and, of course, lots of laughter. In the early morning of each day the team gathered to do some birding in the beautiful Wakkerstroom wetlands and grasslands. This was a great exercise, allowing staff to get to know each other better, socialise and help each other learn more about bird species that some may have not known before.
Overall, the two days spent at Wakkerstroom were not only informative, but also fun and eye-opening. Our staff left Wakkerstroom better informed and highly motivated, with morale high. BirdLife South Africa will continue to do what it does best, which is protecting our country’s magnificent birdlife and its habitats and, of course, ‘giving conservation wings’.
MPHO MAGIDI, COMMUNICATIONS INTERN
Bird guides and butterflies
BirdLife South Africa recently provided eight of our Community Bird Guides with an opportunity to improve their skills by enlisting South Africa’s leading lepidopterist, Steve Woodhall, to conduct a three-day ‘Introduction to Butterflies’ course in Mtunzini, KwaZulu-Natal. The guides managed to see more than 60 butterfly species during the course, including some unexpected and rare ones, and they will add their new butterfly identification skills to their already admirable birding skills, giving an enriched experience to their clients.
All the Community Bird Guides can be found on the GoBirding website gobirding.co.za, along with more than 500 birding sites, places to stay, bird clubs and tour operators.
ANDREW DE BLOCQ, AVITOURISM PROJECT MANAGER
Birds and responsible tourism in Africa
BirdLife South Africa recently won two awards at the prestigious Responsible Tourism Awards, presented at World Travel Market Africa in Cape Town. These annual awards are presented to projects and organisations across Africa that are working towards socially and environmentally sustainable travel and tourism. BirdLife South Africa received a Gold Award in the category for Diversity & Inclusion and a Silver Award for Nature-positive Tourism. These awards are recognition of the pioneering role that the organisation has played for more than two decades in transforming tourism and creating local community benefits through birds and conservation.
The Gold Award for Diversity & Inclusion centred on BirdLife South Africa’s Community Bird Guide Project, which has trained more than 200 previously disadvantaged people from local communities as professional bird and nature guides, and on the South African Names for South African Birds (SANSAB) Project, which is compiling lists of names for South African birds in local languages to make birding more inclusive.
The Silver Award for Nature-positive Tourism recognised BirdLife South Africa’s efforts to link tourism and conservation through the Community Bird Guide Project, the Ingula Partnership (BirdLife South Africa, Middelpunt Wetland Trust and Eskom Holdings (SOC) Ltd) at Ingula Nature Reserve, and the Wakkerstroom Tourism and Education Centre, which supports environmental education in local schools.
Although the work we do is not for awards, it is encouraging when our efforts are recognised by our peers in the industry and we hope that the resulting publicity for our projects will inspire others to do similar work. At BirdLife South Africa, we believe that tourism and conservation should be inclusive of local communities and derive benefit for them in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of our projects. We will continue to do whatever we can to realise that vision, whether it is breaking down language and cultural barriers or changing the face of tourism and conservation through local guide training and community education and empowerment.
The Gold Awards from each of the regional World Travel Market events go through to the international awards in London in November, where responsible tourism projects stand the chance of global recognition. BirdLife South Africa will therefore feature again in the Diversity & Inclusion category at that event.
BirdLife South Africa would like to thank its supporters and sponsors, especially Swarovski Optik, Whylo Distributors, Eskom Holdings (SOC) Ltd, and Nick and Jane Prentice, who all contribute significantly to the Avitourism Project. We would also like to acknowledge the pioneers of this work, including the late Ben de Boer and Joe Grosel, as well as others including Sue Anderson, Warwick Tarboton, Duncan Pritchard and Martin Taylor. Last, but certainly not least, we would like to thank our Community Bird Guides, who have been pioneers in the tourism industry and ambassadors for BirdLife South Africa and bird conservation in their communities.
ANDREW DE BLOCQ, AVITOURISM PROJECT MANAGER
Powering a nature-friendly future
Sponsored by Investec Corporate and Institutional Banking, BirdLife South Africa’s Birds and Renewable Energy Project has promoted the development of nature-friendly renewable energy projects for more than a decade. For a summary of our achievements during this period, visit birdlife.org.za/10-years-10-successes-of-the-birds-and-renewable-energy-project/.
South Africans are all too familiar with South Africa’s electricity crisis. Load-shedding has created economic challenges and impacted our daily lives. It has also resulted in mounting pressure to fast-track environmental authorisation processes for renewable energy infrastructure. In addition to a growing number of renewable energy projects that feed into the national grid, energy-intensive industries are shifting to renewables through private power purchase agreements. South Africa is also hoping to establish itself as a green hydrogen hub.
Although we welcome the increasing generation of clean power, associated risks to biodiversity cannot be overlooked. Growing evidence shows that poorly located and managed wind energy facilities are resulting in fatalities of threatened birds, including Black Harriers, Cape Vultures, Martial Eagles, Verreaux’s Eagles and Secretarybirds. Sustained and scaled action will be necessary to secure a nature-friendly transition to renewables in the long term.
We are, therefore, both delighted and grateful that the Lewis Foundation has agreed to co-fund the Birds and Renewable Energy Project and that Investec will continue its support. This funding will enable the project to expand its team and focus on a long-term strategy and sustainability plan while continuing to be a valued source of evidence-based advice.
SAMANTHA RALSTON-PATON, BIRDS AND RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECT MANAGER
Baobabs & Birds
Baobabs & Birds is a 4-night privately guided excursion to Makuleke, staying at Return Africa’s Pafuri Luxury Tented Camp in a prime position on the Luvuvhu River. We channel the workings of our inner circle to maximise birding opportunities in the field, get input from experts and add on activities from industry legends to optimise our time in this premium birding area.
This experience is aimed at birders, whether you’re just starting out or your life list is halfway there. We would love you to join us and explore this truly extraordinary territory with a specialist birding guide who knows their way around Pafuri and its highly sought-after bird species.
Where: Pafuri Luxury Tented Camp, 4 nights
When: November to February
Who: Brett Horley and other industry experts
Brett Horley is a specialist birding guide and the founding director of BHS Safari Company, which has been leading birding expeditions into Africa for more than 10 years. As a team, our experience surpasses 50 years of arranging bespoke itineraries, offering honest advice and expert planning support, and putting together expeditions centred on birds.
Visit our website at www.bhs-safari.co and get in touch at email@example.com to find out about upcoming birding expeditions or to start designing your own.
BRETT HORLEY, SPECIALIST BIRDING GUIDE, BHS SAFARI COMPANY
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