(This article was first published in BirdLife South Africa's IBA Newsletter 6 – SUMMER 2015. It gives a very sound illustration of the project that the members of BirdLife Overberg will be raising funds for with our CHARITY GOLF DAY 2016. - Watch this space! Anton)
Eight bird species of the Western Cape occur only in the Fynbos Biome and nowhere else in the world; attracting birders from far and wide. BirdLife South Africa has partnered with academic researchers to ensure these species persist long into the future, fulfilling their essential ecosystem functions and providing happy birders with those soughtafter ‘ticks’.
The eight Fynbos endemic bird species include the flamboyant Cape Sugarbird, the diminutive Orange-breasted Sunbird, the mountain denizen Cape Rock-jumper, secretive Victorin’s Warbler, the strident Southern Black Korhaan, canary-like Protea Seedeater and Cape Siskin, and the elusive Hottentot Buttonquail. These birds are all unique in their own right; however what makes them even more special is that they are restricted to the highly diverse plant kingdom isolated at the Southern tip of Africa – the Fynbos.
In early 2012, BirdLife South Africa teamed up with Dr Alan Lee and Dr Phoebe Barnard of the University of Cape Town and South African National Biodiversity Institute respectively, to assist with their research project investigating the impacts of climate change on these Fynbos endemic birds. Dr Alan Lee cycled his bicycle almost 2800 km over the rugged Cape Fold Mountains, many of which are Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs), to collect the necessary data. Four years later and this research project has shed some light on the conservation needs of the Fynbos endemic birds. BirdLife South Africa is now applying this research to begin to mitigate the threats faced by these species. To start, ‘Bird-friendly management guidelines’ is being produced and distributed to the relevant landowners and land managers across the Fynbos Biome in order to guide them on the correct approaches for improving and maintaining habitat for these species.
CapeNature is the custodian of many reserves which form the core of the Cape Fold Mountain IBAs, and will apply this information when drafting management plans for these reserves. A user-friendly one page document is also being produced and circulated widely to all parties with an interest in conserving these species. We hope that these two documents will help guide interested land managers and allow them to assist BirdLife South Africa’s IBA Programme through the appropriate management of Fynbos habitat on their properties; allowing these sometimes shy, sometimes flamboyant, but always beautiful birds to have a home for many years to come.
Dale Wright, IBA Programme Regional
Conservation Manager for Western Cape Province