WHY BECOME A MEMBER OF BIRDLIFE OVERBERG?Posted on the 7th September 2010
WHY BECOME A MEMBER OF BIRDLIFE OVERBERG?
Elaine, BirdLife Overberg's membership secretary, had recently asked me to answer two letters that she had received. The one was a club member reacting to a membership renewal notice asking “why should I pay R 310.00 to be a member of BirdLife Overberg if I only have to pay R 325.00 to be a member of BirdLife South Africa and get six issues of Africa Birds & Birding included in the deal?” (Membership of BLO and BLSA, together with six issues of Africa Birds & Birding will cost R 460.00). The other e-mail asked a question that we hear fairly often: “Why be a member of BirdLife (one must assume both BLSA and BirdLife Overberg) if I can attend your talks and go on your outings anyway?” I decided to spend some time trying to answer these e-mails and load it onto our club website as a form of a position statement.
In an attempt not to create a twenty page rendition, I decided to address basic issues. Any person interested in birds and their welfare in South Africa should become a member of BirdLife South Africa in support of the tremendous work of this organization. The organization has grown considerably under the leadership of its Executive Director Mark Anderson. Mark has recently published an overview of BLSA achievements over the last few months and this can be read at the following link:
Mark's overview clearly illustrates that the staff, members and volunteers of BirdLife South Africa are all contributing massively to the conservation of birds and their habitats in South Africa. This emphasizes the fact that every serious bird-watcher should at least become a member of the organization. BLSA is the South African partner of BirdLife International and makes a major contribution to the conservation of birds in Africa and even globally. A simple example of this relates to the fantastic work that Dr. Ross Wanless and his Seabirds Division are doing. There are many examples of the contribution that these people are making elsewhere on this website, and on www.birdlife.org.za Membership of BirdLife South Africa is therefore regarded as a non-negotiable issue for all individuals and organizations that have a passion for our country's diversity of birds.
On a regional level BLSA consists of several regional (or provincial) fora that focus their activities on birding and bird conservation issues in their area. BirdLife Overberg participates in the activities of the Western Cape Bird Forum and, as such, takes local Overberg birding issues, be these conservation, birding tourism or education related to this Forum. This gives the comfort that local issues could be identified and reported on local, regional, national and international levels (if needed) through our association with BLSA.
The committee members of BirdLife Overberg are proud of what had been achieved over the last seven years. This article can not review all of these achievements; one only needs to browse through www.westerncapebirding.co.za to get an idea of the extent of the commitment and dedication of our membership. Let us therefore focus on 2010: there is chronological overviews of this year's past and future activities and events elsewhere on this website.
I would like to (from a personal perspective) highlight only a few of BirdLife Overberg's achievements over the last few months:
The committee members still attempt to present monthly talks and day and weekend outings of the highest quality. The ladies started with catering for our monthly meetings and this has proven to be a resounding success – thank you girls.
Mike Graham and friends have developed a mobile exhibition stand that we now use regularly. Lee Wepener designed the great posters that make our exhibits professional and beautiful.
We collaborated with SANBI to present the first Biodiversity Festival at the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens in May. This will now become an annual event.
We managed to disseminate the educational packages on the Lesser Flamingo (developed by the educational division of BLSA as part of National Bird Week ) to more than 60 schools in the Overberg.
BirdLife Overberg's first golf day in aid of the African Penguin is done and dusted and the next one is scheduled for 24 February 2011.
The third edition of the checklist of the birds of the Overberg was published through kind sponsorship from Tru-Cape.
Committee members have thusfar done thirteen talks and courses to other groups in our region.
We have been awarded a small grant from the Roland and Leta Hill Trust to serve as seeding funding for the development of birding resources for environmental education centres in the Overberg. The centres that will serve as pilot studies for this project are those Potberg at De Hoop Nature Reserve and the Agulhas and Bontebok National Parks. Resources being developed include illustrated lecture packs for teachers, bird identification brochures for learners and posters.
And so one could go on ....................
All of these activities and several others could only be maintained and improved with a strong, vibrant, energetic and generous membership. Our golf day clearly showed what major contributions, be this through effort, time and financial support could be made by a small group of loyal supporters (read members). There are many threats to future of the Overberg's birds and their habitats and it is certainly in our hands to identify these threats and to try to ensure that we address these as best we could through our association with BirdLife South Africa and its international partners.
To me it seems evident that serious bird-watchers in the Overberg should support the efforts of both BirdLife Overberg and BirdLife South Africa and it is my belief that a membership fee of R 310.00 per annum is minimal given the work that our committee and members are doing. A further R 150.00 for six issues of Africa Birds & Birding is a bonus. Our efforts can only improve through a stronger membership, be this on local regional or national levels. We are in this for the birds, right?
I would like to invite all members to assist the BirdLife Overberg Committee Members to grow our membership for the conservation of birds and their habitats in the Overberg and South Africa. Kindly talk to us.
7 September 2010.