Austin Roberts Memorial MedalThis award is named after Austin Roberts (1883-1948) who, more than 70 years after his death, remains a household name thanks to the range of bird books that carry his name. Austin Roberts was one of the co-founders and mainstays of BirdLife South Africa’s predecessor, the Southern African Ornithological Society; he was the society’s first treasurer and later its secretary and he edited the society’s journal, Ostrich, from its inception until his death. Austin Roberts also played an untiring role in the later years of his life in promoting the conservation of birds.

Recipients of the Austin Roberts Memorial Medal Award

  • 2014 – John Ledger
  • 2015 – David Chamberlain
  • 2019 – Bruce Dyer

The Austin Roberts Memorial Award has been established to honour people who have made a significant contribution to bird conservation in South Africa.

What constitutes a ‘significant contribution to bird conservation’ can take various forms; primarily, awards will be made to those who have made an sustained commitment to bird conservation and who have achieved enduring results in enhancing the conservation status of individual bird species, bird communities, key bird habitats or important bird sites, and/or who have brought about positive changes in local attitudes or national policies that have been for the benefit of bird conservation. Actions to safeguard populations of threatened species will rank above those benefitting non-threatened species.

The award is open to both professionals employed in the conservation field and to non-professionals who have voluntarily applied their time, skills and talents to the benefit of bird conservation.

Provided that a suitable candidate is identified, the Austin Roberts Memorial Award could be awarded every year. No more than one Austin Roberts Memorial Award will be made in any given year and it shall not be awarded posthumously.

The Austin Roberts Memorial Award is presented at BirdLife South Africa’s Annual General Meetings.

BirdLife South Africa will send out an annual notification inviting and announcing the closing date for nominations for the Austin Roberts Memorial Award each year.

Enquiries can be sent to


  • A call for nominations shall be published in BirdLife South Africa’s publications, and sent to BirdLife South Africa’s staff, Board of Directors and bird clubs.
  • Any member of BirdLife South Africa can nominate a candidate and each nomination shall be seconded by at least one other member of BirdLife South Africa.
  • A person cannot nominate himself/herself nor can they second their own candidacy.
  • Nominations shall include an appropriate motivation and a copy of the candidate’s CV.
  • Members of the Selection Committee can nominate candidates.
  • Nominations must be submitted to BirdLife South Africa’s HR Manager, who shall circulate these to the members of the Selection Committee.
  • Nominations must be received by the HR Manager at least six months before the next medal is to be awarded.

The Selection Committee

  • The Chairman of BirdLife South Africa will chair the Selection Committee and there will be four other members, two of which will be one of BirdLife South Africa’s Chief Executive Officer and Honorary President, and two of which will be appointees made at the discretion of the above three BirdLife South Africa Selection Committee members.
  • If a member of the Selection Committee is nominated for the award, that member shall temporarily stand down and be replaced by another appointee.

Selection procedure

  • The members of the Selection Committee shall vote on the nominations. Where there is a single nomination, the candidate must be positively supported by two-thirds or more of the Selection Committee members. Where two candidates are nominated, the one supported by two-thirds or more of the Selection Committee members shall receive the award. Where more than two candidates are nominated, voting shall have several iterations whereby the lowest scoring candidate/s is/are eliminated after each iteration until only two candidates remain for the final poll. Any member of the Selection Committee may abstain from voting for one or more candidates at any stage. In all cases, the winning candidate must be positively supported by at least two-thirds of the Selection Committee. The Chairman of the Selection Committee shall have a deciding vote where necessary. It follows that the award shall not be awarded if the nomination/s fail to receive the requisite support.
  • The deliberations of the Selection Committee shall be treated as confidential.
  • The result shall be forwarded by the Chairman of the Selection Committee/HR Manager to the Board of Directors of BirdLife South Africa for approval.
  • The Chairman of the Selection Committee shall inform the necessary parties of the outcome and, where positive, shall present the award at the next Annual General Meeting of BirdLife South Africa, which determines the year of the award.
  • The Austin Roberts Memorial Award will be in the form of a medal and a framed certificate.
  • The recipient shall present the Austin Roberts Memorial Address at the Annual General Meeting.
  • The travel and accommodation costs of the recipient’s attendance at the Annual General Meeting shall be paid by BirdLife South Africa.
  • The award shall be reported in BirdLife South Africa’s publications and the Chairman of the Selection Committee shall provide an appropriate biographical account of the recipient.
  • The content of the Austin Roberts Memorial Address shall be published, either in full or in an abbreviated form, in at least one of the BirdLife South Africa’s publications (Ostrich and African Birdlife). The final decision in this regard shall lie with the editors of these publications, as guided by the Chief Executive Officer of BirdLife South Africa.

For more information, please contact Isabel Human at BirdLife South Africa on +27(0)11 789 1122 or email