Conservation

BLSA's WORK ON TERRESTRIAL BIRDS

Posted on the 5th December 2010

(This overview of BirdLife South Africa's work on terrestrial species was taken from CEO Mark Anderson', report to Council on 4 December 2010. - Ed.)

One of BirdLife South Africa’s priorities is to conserve the country’s 125 species which are listed in The Eskom Red Data Book of Birds of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. The is an important book which guides our work and we are therefore grateful for funding that has just been secured from Eskom and SANBI (c. R1.2 million) to revise the book. BirdLife South Africa’s bird conservation work can be separated into “terrestrial birds” and “seabird” conservation work.

Terrestrial birds

Dr Hanneline Smit is the Manager of the Conservation Division (Oppenheimer Fellow of Conservation) and two additional staff, David Maphisa and Kate Henderson, work in this Division. Some of the work during the past quarter has included the following:

· SABAP2 has been extensively promoted during workshops (such as in Wakkerstroom on 15 and 16 October), on the BirdLife South Africa website, in the enewsletter (especially of Birding Big Day, 4oG, and PHESTIVAL), on the BirdLife South Africa Facebook page, and on radio.

· Two funding applications for SABAP2 atlasing and training in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal were prepared and submitted to the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.

· Two funding applications for SABAP2 atlasing and training in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal were prepared and submitted to the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.

· The Ingula Partnership work can be summarised as follows:

o Mark Anderson and Hanneline Smit attended Ingula Partnership meeting at Megawatt Park and Ingula, and Hanneline Smith visited David Maphisa and Kate Henderson on site.

o Hanneline Smit accompanied Prof. Les Underhill and Dr Res Altwegg, David Maphisa and Kate Henderson’s PhD supervisors on a visit to Ingula.

o David Maphisa and Kate Henderson attended the statistical biological course hosted by a team from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland in conjunction with the Animal Demography Unit (ADU), University of Cape Town and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) (7 - 10 September 2010). David Maphisa and Kate Henderson attended an introductory course in “R” at UCT on 1 September by Dr Res Altwegg. The statistical program “R” will be crucial in all analyses of the field data collected in the past and in coming years.

o David Maphisa and Kate Henderson presented posters on their research at the South African Management of Wildlife Association (SAWMA) conference held near Rustenburg in the North West Province (20 – 22 September 2010).

o David Maphisa spends many hours capturing field baseline data (from his notebooks) from transects in 2006 – 2008 into Excel as these data were lost when his computer crashed in 2009. David Maphisa continues to survey avifauna, vegetation, butterflies and reptiles at Ingula. David Maphisa has started his summer field work which is intense and requires the walking of 10 grids of 100 ha each at Ingula; these are walked twice per quarter to detect the presence, absence and nest records of bird species.

o Kate Henderson started the summer roost survey on Southern Bald Ibis in September 2010. The breeding season started late due to a late rain season and therefore surveys will continue until the end of December 2010. Ibis chicks are ringed when old enough, blood samples will be taken and radio-transmitters (six) will be fitted later this year until the end of December 2010. The secondary poisoning of Southern Bald Ibises has likely taken place, with nematode poisons used on maize crops. This will be investigated further. Kate Henderson found a “handmade” ladder at a breeding site which indicated that eggs were stolen from the nest site.

o Extensive publicity has been given to David Maphisa and Kate Henderson’s projects in the BirdLife South Africa enewsletter was prepared, the online emagazine e-Birder, Africa Birds & Birding, Lancaster Quarry and Environmental Magazine. Further publicity was given in a talk to the Wits Bird Club, the SANParks Honorary Rangers at the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden and KZN Forum.

· A project on White-bellied Korhaans will be initiated with funding of R180 000 for three years from Jonathan and Jennifer Oppenheimer (facilitated by Kate Maurel and Duncan MacFadyen) to support a PhD student at Wits University under the supervision of Dr Craig Symes and Hanneline Smit.

· Hanneline Smit is leading BirdLife South Africa’s work on birds and wind energy matters and serves on the BAWESG (Birds and Wind Energy Specialist Group). The following meetings have been geld Birds and Wind Energy Workshop (26 August) and three BAWESG meetings (15 September, 14 October, 19 November). A Wind Avian Sensitivity Map is being developed (see elsewhere in this report). Other duties of BAWESG include the development of guidelines for environmental practitioners on pre- and post-monitoring protocols for wind farms, research on the potential benefits of the use of radar at wind farm developments, and a literature review (with uploading of relevant information on the BirdLife South Africa website). This work on birds and wind farms has received extensive publicity in Africa Birds & Birding, the BirdLife South Africa e-newsletter and on the BirdLife South Africa website.

· Hanneline Smit is busy with an evaluation to determine which of the 125 Red Data Listed species are in most urgent need of conservation attention. The criteria being used include: Global IUCN red data status, Regional red data status (according to Barnes 2000), Endemism, Migrant/Resident, Vagrant, Habitat occupation, Human induced vs natural stress, Breeding rate and success, Taxonomical considerations. Inputs into this project have been received from experts, including from ornithologists during her visit to the RSPB in November.

· Hanneline Smit visited the RSBP and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust on 5 November 2010 to learn how BirdLife South Africa can assist with the implementation of a Mallard eradication strategy in South Africa. Useful discussion followed with Dr Baz Hughes (WWT), Dr Ian Henderson (WWT) and Dr Dave Hoccom (WWT). It is clear that this project is a major task and a very difficult one to take on and it was decided that BirdLife South Africa will support Phase I of the project and make a decision on active involvement at the end of this phase. Phase I will include determining the extent of the problem: determine abundances, distribution of Mallards in South Africa and neighbouring countries and the financial costs involved in a control programme for South Africa, securing legislative support from DEA for an eradication programme, and public awareness campaigns.

· Twenty position statements are being developed by BirdLife South Africa, with one (Wind Energy and Birds) being approved by Council in September, and four (Lead poisoning and Birds, Feeding of Birds, Invasive Birds and Bird Ringing) will be submitted to Council for approval on 4 December.

· Hanneline Smit serves on the BirdLife South Africa List Committee, and the Checklist of Birds in South Africa is being revised for printing and distribution in early 2011. Funding has been obtained for the printing of English (Zeiss) and Afrikaans (Embryo Plus) copies.

· Hanneline Smith visited the UK in November where she spent two days at BirdLife International (Cambridge) and three days at the Royal Society for Protection of Birds (Sandy). Two talks were presented on the vision and duties of the Conservation Division at BLI and RSBP, and one hour meetings were held with a number of BLI and RSBP staff on a various topics. The knowledge gained is of immense value in implementing the goals and objectives of the Conservation Division.

Additional terrestrial bird work has included the following:

· A bird monitoring programme has been developed for Palabora Mining Company, and the first survey was completed.

· BirdLife South Africa staff have participated in SABAP2.

· Martin Taylor has assisted with bird ringing at Darville Sewerage Works, and has recently received his ringing licence.



 


 


 


 


 


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