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THE STATUS QUO OF AVITOURISM IN THE OVERBERG: A review of top birding sites and registered Important Bird Areas (IBA's)

The Overberg also has a range of very well known birding sites such as:

  • Agulhas National Park
  • Bontebok National Park
  • Botriver Estuary
  • Breede River System
  • Caledon Botanical Gardens
  • De Hoop Nature Reserve
  • De Mond Nature Reserve
  • Dyer Island
  • Fernkloof Nature Reserve
  • Greyton Nature Garden
  • Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve
  • Harold Porter Nature Reserve
  • Kleinriver Estuary
  • Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve
  • Marloth Nature Reserve
  • Salmonsdam Nature Reserve
  • Sir Lowry's Pass
  • Stony Point
  • Theewaterskloofdam
  • Tradouw Pass
  • Uilenkraalsmond Estuary

The following Important Bird Areas (IBA's) have already been officially registered in and around the Overberg Region:

  • SA107 Eastern False Bay Mountains
  • SA115 Overberg Wheatbelt
  • SA118 Botrivervlei and Kleinmond Estuary
  • SA119 De Hoop Nature Reserve
  • SA120 Dyer Island Nature Reserve
  • SA121 Heuningnes River and Estuary System
  • Note should be taken of the fact that some of these IBA's might include other (sometimes smaller) important reserves and the immediate question that comes to mind, is whether some of these smaller reserves should not receive greater recognition and ultimately formal international accreditation as an IBA. A further question relates to the conservation status of these reserves and how bird clubs could contribute to the conservation of such reserves. If one only considers the Overberg, the status of the following reserves immediately comes to mind:
  • De Mond Nature Reserve
  • Agulhas National Park
  • Estuaries such as Kleinriver and Uilenkraalsmond
  • Smaller reserves such as Harold Porter, Fernkloof, Stony Point and the like
  • What about Bontebok, Grootvadersbosch and Tradouw Pass?
  • And so one could go on.

It is critical to realise that the development of birding routes in these regions will not only improve the tourism potential, but could further contribute significantly towards the conservation of birds and their habitats in the Western Cape.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE OVERBERG AND FLAMINGO BIRDING ROUTES: COMPLETED TASKS

  • The second edition of the checklist of the birds of the Overberg has been published. A bird checklist for the West Coast National Park has already been published and was used as basis for the development of a similar checklist for the Cape West Coast region. This publication has now been published;
  • The publication of the Overberg Birding Routes publication (Routefinder) was completed in 2004. This experience of the publication of the routefinder will be used by members of the project team in preparing similar publications for all the Western Cape Birding Routes. The version for the Flamingo Birding Route has just been completed;
  • Several intoductory publications on the identification of the common birds of the Overberg have already been published. These are “The Waterbirds of the Overberg”, “The Garden birds of the Overberg”, “The Shorebirds of the Overberg” and “The Fynbos specials of the Overberg”. A publication on “The Wheatfield specials of the Overberg” is currently being prepared for printing. Independent sponsorship had been obtained to finance these publications;
  • The artwork of the first four brochures had been combined in the publication of two A-4 laminated posters that are currently being distributed through tourism outlets;
  • An article on the Overberg Birding Routes was published in "Africa Birds and Birding" (October/November 2004: Volume 9, Number 5). (More than 500 reactions, enquiries and bookings had already been received as a direct result of this article). Several other short articles on birding events in the Overberg and Cape West Coast have been published in Africa Birds and Birding by the project leader.
  • A dedicated e-mailing service for the Overberg Birding Routes had been developed at birding@overberg.co.za
  • A dedicated website for the Western Cape Birding Routes had been developed at www.westerncapebirding.co.za Research is currently being undertaken to meaningfully link these websites to the BLSA site and other sites on birding routes in South Africa;
  • BirdLife Worcester, BirdLife Walker Bay and BirdLife Stellenbosch had been established as satellite branches of BirdLife Overberg: These had already been established as full independent Branches of BLSA;
  • The Overberg Birding Route was launched during the highly successful Stanford Birding Fair in 2004 that has now become an annual event: already fifteen birders from Britain have attended the Fair and at least nine other bird clubs have participated thusfar. The quarterly Western Cape Birding Forum meeting (at which all bird club chairpersons in the Western Cape meet) also normally meet at the Fair;
  • Members of BirdLife Overberg assisted the Honorary Rangers of the West Coast National Park with the development of the “West Coast National Park Wader Bash”, that had now become an annual event in March. Assistance was also given with the development of the first Karoo National Park “Little Brown Job Weekend” that was held in May 2007. It is envisaged that similar birding weekends will in future be held in all five National Parks in the Western Cape province. A birding weekend for the Agulhas National Park is being planned for October 2008;
  • The project team has already consolidated working arrangements with organizations such as CapeNature, Coastcare, several regional and local municipalities, SANParks, the World Wildlife Fund (SA), CAPE, the Fynbos Forum, regional tourism authorities, a variety of NGO's and several other organizations in the Overberg and along the West Coast. A Memorandum of Understanding with Cape Town Routes Unlimited has just been negotiated;
  • The project leader has developed the “Flight for Beginners” introductory bird identification and 18 of these course have already been presented in the Western Cape province;
  • PowerPoint presentations and lectures on the birds of the region and where to find them have already been developed for the West Coast National Park, the National Parks along the Cape Garden Route and the Karoo National Park;
  • Five representatives of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) had already visited reserves in the Overberg to assist with avi-tourism planning;
  • News about developments on the Overberg Birding Routes are now being disseminated through the internet through service providers such as the “capebirdnet” and “sabirdclubforum”. This service will be continued regularly for all activities forming part of the Western Cape Birding Routes;
  • The CleanMarine project had recently been launched: this project being implemented along the Overberg coastline serves as an experimental study later to be implemented along the entire South African coast and aims at developing sustainable models whereby the sea and shoreline could be cleared of litter and pollution. Project partners include BirdLife South Africa, CapeNature, Coastcare and the Overstrand Municipality. Several final year students in Nature Conservation and Coastal and Marine Management will do their research projects as part of the CleanMarine project. This project aims at the development of a model to be implemented along the rest of the South African coastline in future.

THE FOLLOWING TALKS AND PRESENTATIONS HAVE BEEN UNDERTAKEN DURING 2007

  • Presentation on the Western Cape Birding Routes to the Gentlemen's Luncheon Club in Hermanus on 7 February;
  • Talk on the Western Cape Birding Routes to BirdLife Worcester on 7 February;
  • Presentation on the Western Cape Birding Routes to the Western Cape Birding Forum in Somerset-West on 10 February;
  • Talk on the Western Cape Birding Routes to the Annual General Meeting of BirdLife Overberg on 12 February;
  • “Flight for Birders” identification course in Stanford on 17 and 18 February;
  • Presentation on the Western Cape Birding Routes to the “Flight for Birders” identification course in Stanford on 17 February;
  • Presentation on the Western Cape Birding Routes to the Steering Committee meeting of the Flamingo (West Coast) Birding Route in Langebaan on 24 February;
  • Presentation on the Western Cape Birding Routes to the Council of the Overberg District Municipality in Bredasdorp on 27 February;
  • Presentation on the Western Cape Birding Routes to Alan Beverley, the MD of Durbanville Commercial Printers on 2 March;
  • Presentation on the Western Cape Birding Routes to representatives of Cape Town Routes Unlimited in Cape Town on 2 March;
  • Presentation on the Western Cape Birding Routes to the Mayor of the West Coast District Municipality (Mr. Jakes Botha) at Geelbek on 10 March;
  • Presentation on the Western Cape Birding Routes to Overberg Tourism association in Caledon on 28 March;
  • Presentation on the Western Cape Birding Routes to the Sales Manager and CEO of Waltons on 13 April;
  • Public meeting on the Western Cape Birding Routes to BirdLife Plettenberg Bay and BirdLife Lakes at Knysna on 16 April;
  • Presentation on the Western Cape Birding Routes to the Johannesburg Bird Fair on 5 May;
  • Flight for Beginners to the Johannesburg Bird Fair on 5 and 6 May;
  • Public meeting on the Western Cape Birding Routes to the Witzenberg Bird Club in Ceres on 9 May;
  • Radio interview on BLSA Avitourism Division activities on Radio Kwezi, a regional station in KZN on Wednesday 6 June;
  • Presentation on the CleanMarine project to the “Berg-en-See Klub” of the NG church in Somerset-West on Thursday 7 June;
  • Training of local bird guides at the Geelbek EE centre in WCNP on 16, 17, 18 and 19 July;
  • Flamingo steering committee meeting in Langebaan on 19 July;
  • Facilitate membership workshop for BLSA in Johannesburg on 3 and 4 August;
  • Presentation at the AGM of the Witzenberg Tourism Association in Ceres on 16 August;
  • Presentation on the WCBR to the West Coast District Municipality in Moorreesburg on 29 August;
  • Presentation on the WCBR to the staff of Club Mykonos in Saldanha on 29 August;
  • Presentation on the WCBR to Mykonos Casino in Saldanha on 30 August;Presentation on the WCBR to Mapstudio in Cape Town on 7 September;
  • Presentation of Flight for Beginners course in Hermanus on 2 and 20 September;
  • Presentation of stand at Stanford Glendower Bird Fair in Stanford on 28 to 30 September;
  • Presentation of a mini bird identification course on the birds of the Overberg on 30September;
  • Attendance of BLSA Avitourism meeting in Richard's Bay on 5 and 6 November;
  • Inaugaral speech at the official launch of the Flamingo Birding Route in Velddrif on 9 November;
  • Talk to BirdLife Overberg on the Birds of the Kruger National Park in Hermanus on 12 November;
  • Presentation on the WCBR to the Somerset West Tourism Association and Bird Club in Somerset West on 13 November;

(A demonstration of all of these products that had been developed by BirdLife Overberg could be arranged at very short notice).