3-7 June 2019


Coastal Seabirds

Christina Hagen and other penguin experts met with an IUCN consultant to go through the African Penguin as a test case of the new Green List of Species. This list aims to highlight the impact of conservation actions on the status of species. Christina worked on the seabird inputs to the new MOU with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) reports. Andrew de Blocq and Christina both worked on a letter to the Minister about the recent bunkering spill in Algoa Bay and the threat to the penguins there, as well as a draft position statement on aquaculture. Andrew spent time training volunteer seabird observers who then departed on the SA Agulhas II on the Antarctic research cruise who will be collecting data for the Atlas of Seabirds At Sea (AS@S) project as well as additional data for Prof. Peter Ryan, Director of the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology. Andrew had a Skype meeting with Henk Nel of BirdLasser to discuss data collection for the project.

Common Oceans

Nini van der Merwe worked with the Fiji Port-Based Outreach Officer to discuss the mid-term project report. She also had a meeting with Ross Wanless to discuss the outcomes of the Project Steering Committee meeting.

Gough Island Restoration Project

Nini (remotely) attended multiple team meetings to discuss biosecurity, logistics and the upcoming September take-over voyage. She also attended the Agulhas II voyage planning meeting at the South African National Antarctic Programme.

Albatross Task Force

Andrea Angel met with John Cooper to discuss ideas for the World Albatross Day on 19 July 2020. This initiative was proposed by The Agreement for the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP). Andrea met with WWF’s Bokamoso Lebepe who is managing the Fish for Good project, aimed at helping selected fisheries to attain Marine Stewardship Certification through fisheries improvement projects. Of interest to the ATF are the Tuna Pole and Pelagic Longline fleets which are at risk of bycatch. Andrea worked on a report to the ATF teams on ways to assess the success of tailor bird scaring lines on small trawl vessels to improve implementation. Reason Nyengera returned from a week at sea ahead of strong winds and stormy weather.


Melissa Howes-Whitecross, Linda van den Heever, Samantha Ralston, Robin Colyn, Carina Coetzer, Elelwani Makhuvha, Nolumanyalo Camagu, Hanneline Smit-Robinson and Fanie Du Plessis spent the week at the Terrestrial Bird Conservation Programme (TBCP) staff meeting held at Pullen Farm, Mbombela. The meeting discussions were centred around integrating science into conservation implementation. Debates about future strategies and project directions were held and some rewarding morning birding sessions were enjoyed.


Estuary IBA Conservation Project

Giselle Murison had several meetings with the landowners in the emerging Berg River Estuary Protected Environment to finalise the documentation around the intention to declare the Protected Environment and the draft Management Agreement. Giselle joined landowners in a meeting with consultants from the Terramanzi Group regarding the photovoltaic solar energy facility proposed over sections of the properties in the emerging Protected Environment. Giselle met with CapeNature to discuss various issues relating to the management and conservation of priority estuaries in the Western Cape.  Giselle also spent time preparing a presentation for the West Coast Bird Club meeting.

South African Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs)

Daniel Marnewick had a meeting with the South African Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) Review Steering Committee to plan the remaining aspects of the national review of the KBA network. The team also discussed the agenda for the KBA Stakeholder engagement meeting to take place on 17 September.

Regional and Global Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs)

Simeon Bezeng, Daniel and Jonathan Booth submitted the Red List, KBA and Best Practice Guideline proposal to support the core Biodiversity Assessment and Spatial Planning Prioritization in Africa (BASPA) countries to the Darwin Initiative Round of 26. Bezeng organized and scheduled a Zoom meeting with the African national Red List stakeholders to identify challenges with national Red Listing in Africa. Bezeng presented a talk at the Northern Bird Club Regional Forum on “Mobilizing Biodiversity Data to Support Wise Land-Use Decision-Making in Africa” and attended a KBA Guideline Webinar on conserving the most important sites for biodiversity via national policies and financial institution safeguards on Key Biodiversity Areas, including Alliance for Zero Extinction sites. Bezeng and Daniel attended a Zoom planning meeting of the IUCN Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO) Regional Conservation Forum.

Conservation Areas (Other Effective Area-based conservation Measures)

Daniel spent time planning the next steps of the OECM project leading up to the closure of the case study in September.


Jonathan Booth attended the RMB Fund three-day workshop with Ernst Retief in which new approaches to conservation funding were discussed.


Hiral Naik spent much of the week finalising invitations for the Phil Liggett Bush Cycle to take place from 1 to 4 November in Pafuri, Kruger National Park. The invitations have been sent out. Hiral drafted Question and Answers from the first KBA webinar on ‘Guidelines on Implementing KBAs’.


Martin Taylor travelled to Cape Town to attend meetings with the Peace Parks Foundation relating to birding tourism as well as vulture conservation and Key Biodiversity Areas in southern Africa. Martin had a Skype meeting with Ian Barber to update him on partner development matters and to clarify aspects of the 2019/2020 work plan. Martin dealt with BirdLife Zimbabwe contractual concerns and attended a meeting relating to the planning of the 2020 PAOC. He had a meeting with Giselle Murison to brief her on the recent East Atlantic Task Force meeting held in Madrid, Spain, and BirdLife South Africa’s future involvement. Martin dealt with bookings for a Partnership in International Birding trip and planned for a bird identification course to be held at Sefapane Lodge in Limpopo.


Hanneline joined the TBCP staff meeting held at Pullen Farm, Mbombela, this week. The team engaged in several discussions focused around conservation implementation as well as strategic planning for the future. Hanneline chaired the quarterly Ingula Partnership meeting during which both Carina and Melissa provided overviews of work undertaken over the past quarter. Hanneline and several other conservation staff participated in a conservation modelling implementation discussion.


The Wakkerstroom Centre had a relatively quiet week, which gave us some time to attend to various administrative and maintenance tasks.  Kristi Garland and Lucky Ngwenya spent time attending to replacing the insulation around the Centre’s water pipes located on the outside of the buildings.  This was no easy feat in the howling winds.  Kristi also spent time attending to various booking requests for the latter part of the year.  Looking ahead, we have very few weekends available for guests going forward.  If you are keen to visit Wakkerstroom and make of our facilities, please do consider booking soon.  Kristi attended a Spring Alive Kiddies book meeting with Judy Wheeler and Carol Preston on Tuesday evening.  This meeting focussed on both the text for the book as well as the art work.  Following this meeting, Kristi met with the Wakkerstroom Bird Club Committee regarding the upcoming Birding Bonanza.  Final arrangements and tasks were set for each member.  A huge push is being made in marketing the event.  On Wednesday Kristi attended the Country college’s Junior Bird Club meeting where we focussed on the newly launched Bird of the Year colouring-in competition, run by the Wakkerstroom Bird Club with Kristi’s assistance.  Over the next two months, learners from all the junior clubs will be submitting their entries.  The top 30 entries (10 from each club) will then be posted on social media for voting. The winner will receive a fluffy Secretarybird toy.  All the kids are hugely excited about this competition.  Kristi and Lucky also completed Lucky’s midyear appraisal this week.  On Thursday Kristi collected our new polywood benches for the dormitories and campsite from Secunda.  We are sure this will be a useful addition to the bathrooms.  Kristi also spent time on developing the Spring Alive resources for the 2019 season, due to start on the 1st September.  We are aiming to launch the kiddies book however at an event in Wakkerstroom on the 31st August.  The Working on Fire team has been extremely busy this week, trying to catch up on day lost due to the wind.  On Monday, Tuesday and Thursday the team really pulled it out of the bag, putting us only three days behind schedule.  Unfortunately Friday was lost due to 40km/r winds in the area.  This gave the team time to catch-up on their own administration and toolbox session.


Membership reports are being sent out the bird clubs.  Shireen Gould attended the Northern Regional Forum Meeting on 15 July.  August 2019 invoices have been emailed out to members and direct subscribers.


As of Friday, 695 raffle tickets have been sold for the tour for two people to Sri Lanka. The deadline for entries is midnight on 22 July.


Mark Anderson attended a number of meetings, including with Philip Calinikos, Sheila Samuels (RSPB), Nick Askew (Conservation Careers, UK), and Julie Bayley. He also attended a BirdLife Council for Africa Partnership meeting and an Ingula Partnership meeting. Mark also spent much time fundraising.