There had been several recent complaints about the bad behaviour of bird-watchers from different areas of the country. In our area complaints from the Rooiels site are of particular concern. For this reason we again post the BirdLife South Africa Code of Ethics and request birders to study this and adhere to the principles.
BIRDLIFE SOUTH AFRICA CODE OF ETHICS
We, the membership of BirdLife South Africa, believe that birders have an obligation at all times to protect wildlife and the natural environment. We therefore pledge ourselves to provide leadership in meeting this by adhering to the following general guidelines of good birding behaviour.
1. Birders must always act in ways that do not endanger the welfare of birds or other wildlife. In keeping with this principle we will:
• Observe and photograph birds without knowingly disturbing them in any significant way.
• Avoid chasing and repeatedly flushing birds.
• Only sparingly use recordings and similar methods of attracting birds.
• Keep an appropriate distance from nests and nesting colonies so as to not disturb them or expose them to danger.
• Refrain from handling birds or eggs unless engaged in recognized research activities.
2. Birders must always act in ways that do not harm the environment. In keeping with this principle we will:
• Stay on existing roads, trails and pathways whenever possible to avoid trampling or otherwise disturbing fragile habitats.
• Leave all habitats as we found it.
3. Birders must always respect the rights of others. In keeping with this principle we will:
• Respect the privacy and property of others by observing “No trespassing” signs, and by asking permission to enter private lands.
• Practice common courtesy in our contact with others. For example, we will limit our requests for information, and we will make them at reasonable hours of the day.
• Always behave in a manner that will enhance the image of the birding community in the eyes of the public.
4. Birders in groups assume special responsibilities. As group members we will:
• Take special care to alleviate the problems and disturbances that are multiplied when more people are present.
• Act in consideration of the group’s interest, as well as our own.
• Support by our actions, the responsibility of the group leader (s) for the conduct of the group.
As group leaders we will:
• Assume responsibility for the conduct of the group.
• Learn and inform the group of any special rules, regulations or conduct applicable to the areas or habitats being visited.