BirdLife South Africa and Petra Diamonds working together to protect Secretarybirds
Johannesburg, 12 November 2012 - BirdLife South Africa is pleased to announce that Petra Diamonds has agreed to support its efforts to conserve Secretarybirds by becoming a Species Champion for this species, under BirdLife International’s Preventing Extinctions Programme. BirdLife Species Champions are companies, organizations, or individuals who financially support work to prevent the extinction of a globally threatened bird species. By becoming a BirdLife Species Champion, a donor will be making a direct contribution to help prevent extinctions!
Petra Diamonds’ Koffiefontein mine has agreed to financially support the Secretarybird conservation project for three years. The Koffiefontein mine has long provided a home to Secretarybirds, who nest in the trees on the mine’s game farm.
The support from companies, such as Petra Diamonds, is essential for important bird conservation work. Conservation projects like these are not short-term projects and require a multiyear commitment. In return for the three year funding commitment, Petra Diamonds will be acknowledged as a Species Champion by BirdLife South Africa and BirdLife International, including the use of the BirdLife International Species Champion logo in any of the company’s documentation and reports.
It is hoped that this will be the beginning of a long and productive relationship between BirdLife South Africa and Petra Diamonds that will contribute to the successful conservation of Secretarybirds in South Africa. According to Ernst Retief, BirdLife South Africa Gauteng and North West Regional Manager, “the conservation project includes the tracking of Secretarybirds to understand their movements and behaviour which will inform conservation decision-making”. Secretarybirds are globally listed as “Vulnerable” (IUCN 2012) and are in decline across their range in sub-Saharan Africa. “Secretarybirds in South Africa show a dramatic decline in the grasslands and the funds received will be used to focus on research and conservation of Secretarybirds in this biome and adjacent areas”, says Dr Hanneline Smit-Robinson, BirdLife South Africa Conservation Manager. Major threats to this species include habitat fragmentation and degradation influencing prey populations, collisions with power lines and fences, poisoning amongst others.
Ester van der Westhuizen-Coetzer, the environmental practitioner at Petra Diamonds’ Koffiefontein mine, stated “Taking care of nature in the environments where we operate is an integral part of our approach to business. Birds are the forgotten ones when it comes to conservation and funding thereof, but they play an important role in the ecosystem, not only as bio-indicators but also in the whole cycle of ecology. We are therefore honoured and excited to be in a position to contribute to the protection of the Secretarybird and be involved in the research on these majestic birds on our properties at Koffiefontein. Our thanks go to BirdLife South Africa for involving us and providing us with the opportunity to make a difference.”