Norms and standards for raptor ringing, marking and tracking

Posted on the 18th May 2015

Norms and standards for raptor ringing, marking and tracking
Johannesburg, May 2015:
South Africa’s raptors are important environmental indicators and monitoring of, and research into several species helps to improve our knowledge and inform conservation decision-making. Given the growing interest in raptor ringing, marking and tracking in South Africa, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and BirdLife South Africa are of the opinion that the current approach to these activities should be reviewed. Information obtained through the tracking of birds with satellite and other sophisticated tracking devices can provide answers to important research questions that can ultimately contribute to their conservation. This will provide conservationists and decision-makers with a better understanding of movements of birds which can help inform placement of wind turbines and other infrastructure which can pose a significant risk to some bird species.
Handling birds and attaching devices to them can, however, pose inherent risks for the individual birds. These risks must be minimised, and must be justified in terms of the expected science and conservation outcomes for the species from the deployment. The ad hoc fitment of tracking devices where the research questions are unclear is considered to be unethical.
A workshop to discuss the requirements to undertake these ringing, marking and tracking activities was therefore recently held at Ithala Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, and co-hosted by the EWT's Birds of Prey Programme and BirdLife South Africa’s Terrestrial Bird Conservation Programme. The outcomes of the discussions will provide guidelines in terms of ensuring a more rigorous approach with regard to the training of researchers and the permitting of projects which involves these activities.

Image illustrating the migratory path of Amur Falcons














Image illustrating the local movements of a Black Harrier


















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