SEABIRD CONSERVATION PROGRAMME
Christina Hagen and Taryn Morris attended a Seabird Scientific Technical Team hosted by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) to discuss various issues relating to seabird conservation. Christina also worked on the proposal document for the establishment of a new African Penguin colony in Plett, while Taryn prepared and presented a presentation to the DEA Integrated Ecosystem Programme: Benguela Current on the data collected by Atlas for Seabirds at Sea (AS@S) for this programme.
Bronwyn and Ross Wanless attended a meeting at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to discuss opportunities for capacity building of Fisheries Compliance Officers. They also conducted interviews for the Port-based Outreach Expert who will be based in Fiji to conduct awareness with the Chinese tuna longline fleet operating on the high seas.
Pete Watt-Pringle produced an introductory document on the use of online maps of global fishing activity (the site Global Fishing Watch) in relation to port-based outreach activities with longline fishing vessels.
Andrea Angel submitted the RMB funding proposal this week. She and Bronwyn Maree were interviewed by Danielle Hall digital producer for the Ocean Portal at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, an online ocean education website. The aim of this forum is to highlight positive stories related to ocean conservation and she produce a feature story on the successes of the Albatross Task Force in South Africa. Reason Nyengera worked on the data portal submissions for the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) from 2014 to 2017. He also updated the Bird Scaring Line operations and record keeping database. Bokamoso Lebepe has been at sea this week.
Ross spent significant time working on the Alcyon Programme’s bycatch project proposal, and personnel matters as the West African work transitions to a bigger programme, and as new contracts need to be signed with staff. He also finalized interviews for the readvertised post-doctoral position on seabirds and climate change at UCT and developed a data request for seabird tracking data in support of the Common Oceans work that he and BLI colleagues will send out shortly. Ross and Andrea have engaged with various colleagues around an opportunity to work with a Japanese vessel that is in hot water after catching lots of seabirds in our waters. Taryn and Ross attended a Responsible Fisheries Alliance (RFA) workshop to discuss RFA strategy and how to make it more effective in driving change in the fishery. Nini vd Merwe was on leave this week.
TERRESTRIAL BIRD CONSERVATION PROGRAMME
Hanneline Smit-Robinson met with Kishaylin Chetty to discuss the inclusion of possible new projects as part of the Ingula Partnership agreement between BirdLife South Africa and Eskom. Hanneline and Melissa Whitecross met with Eelco Meyjes and Alastair Findlay to discuss the continuation of the Puppet show shows developed by Rare Finch Conservation Group in collaboration with BirdLife South Africa. Hanneline and Arno Ellmer visited the National Zoological Gardens, Pretoria to assess aspects of the site selected for construction of the White-winged Flufftail Research Facility.
Hanneline and Melissa attended a harness fitting session lead by Ernst Retief at the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital on Monday to learn how to correctly fit a tracking device to a Grey-headed Gull. This technique will be used to fit three Grey-headed Gulls with tracking devices as part of the collaboration between ACSA and BirdLife South Africa. Melissa assisted Linda van den Heever with logistics and packing for the Black Stork Survey taking place in the north of Kruger from 4-13 August. Melissa met with Linda Hart and Chevaughn Nagiah to discuss the Kingsmead Bird Fair and met with Hanneline and Eelco Meyjes to discuss the Orange-breasted Waxbill Project.
Daniel Marnewick and Romy Antrobus-Wuth attended a meeting this week with Kishaylan Chetty, from Eskom, to discuss potential areas to collaborate on work with Eskom going forward. The meeting was very positive as Eskom would like to expand the area of influence of their biodiversity conservation work. There is therefore potential for collaboration with the IBA Programme, at biodiversity stewardship sites, to assist with post declaration support and compensation for ecosystem services provided by landowners engaging in stewardship.
Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Free State
Ernst Retief attended the monthly Swinburne auction to promote the Wilge Stewardship Project and to meet with landowners. This was a great success and useful information about landowners in the area was obtained. One landowner indicated that he would support this initiative. Ernst was also invited to talk at the next Swinburne Farmers Union meeting to share information about the biodiversity stewardship work in the eastern Free State. On Thursday Ernst attended a workshop about the wind farm Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) with SANBI and CSIR. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss available data sources which can be used with the SEA and also how Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas should be accommodated.
Dale Wright attended the annual Fynbos Forum this week, and took the opportunity to catch up with many colleagues and old friends working in this region, as well as learning about the latest research and management developments in the Fynbos Biome. The main reason for his attendance was to promote the recently completed “Bird Friendly: Habitat management guidelines for the endemic birds of the Fynbos Biome” booklet which Dale and Dr Alan Lee have compiled. The booklet is a useful resource for protected area managers and landowners with an interest in enhancing habitat to support the Fynbos endemic bird species, and is available to download for free from the BirdLife South Africa website http://www.birdlife.org.za/images/IBA/Documents/Fynbos%20Endemics%20Bird-friendly%20management%20guidelines_online.pdf . We encourage people to download and share this beautiful product with other interested parties.
Verlorenvlei Protected Area Project
Giselle Murison and Sam Schröder attended Conservation Agriculture Western Cape’s (CAWC) annual conference this week, which included interesting presentations on soil health (particularly soil fungi diversity and tilling practices) and the latest in Conservation Agriculture from Australia. The slogan “Healthy soils are the best Crop Insurance you can have” was promoted throughout the workshops. On Friday Samantha met with Dale Wright and Philippa Huntley for a project planning session and to review the project budget.
Cape Estuaries Stewardship Project
Giselle Murison attended the CAWC annual conference with Samantha this week, as detailed above. She also attended the Bot River-Kleinmond Estuarine Management Forum, which provided important feedback on the developing Estuary Management and Mouth Management Plans. Giselle also continued her meetings with landowners regarding options for the formal protection of the Berg River Estuary and the proposed Ramsar site application.
SPECIAL PROJECTS & AVITOURISM
Martin Taylor completed work on a species prioritisation process on behalf of EAFI. Input was provided on a quarterly SCRAMM report compiled by the BirdLife Africa Secretariat, Nairobi. Work was completed on the State of South Africa’s Bird Report as well as on two contracts with SANBI relating to regional Red Listing and the National Biodiversity Assessment respectively. Ian Owtram spent the majority of the week conducting practical assessments conducting FGASA practical assessments as well as invigilating the writing of a FGASA 1 theory exam. Two members of the ACSA management team, who were undertaking a monitoring and evaluation visit, were hosted. Time was spent working on the PIB tour scheduled for November as well as the SANBI bird monitoring programme which will take place in Sekhukhuneland and Mopani district municipalities.
POLICY & ADVOCACY PROGRAMME
Candice Stevens’ main objective this week was the induction of the P&A Programme’s new Advocacy Officer, Jonathan Booth. Jonathan is a great addition to the team and we look forward to the valuable contribution he can make to our advocacy work. Candice also worked on the appointment of the P&A Intern, where we hope to have an offer signed shortly. This included finalising specifications for internship. Candice, together with Jonathan, Daniel Marnewick, Romy Antrobus-Wuth and Hanneline Smit-Robinson met with Kishaylan Chetty (Eskom) to discuss areas of synergy around Biodiversity Finance, policy work relating to offsets, and proactive advocacy measures.
Fiscal Benefits Project
Candice had another successful meeting with SANBI regarding Fiscal Benefits Project deliverables. She has now been asked to host a high level government workshops on biodiversity tax incentives at the upcoming Biodiversity Stewardship Conference. She also had initial discussions with SANParks Honorary Rangers regarding the use of the tax incentives.
Jonathan Booth completed the induction process with Candice Stevens and settled into his first week of work at BirdLife South Africa. He also attended the meeting with Eskom, as described above. He worked on the new P&A website page and the Internship Policy.
The Centre has been very kindly supported by Promac Paints with paint supplies for the repainting of all the Centre’s roofs. We currently have a painter and his team on site – sanding and preparing for the actual painting next week. Thank you Promac Paints! Final arrangements were also made regarding the sponsorship of carpeting for the entire Centre. We hope to collect the delivery in Ermelo soon. This gracious sponsorship comes from Belgotex Floors – thank you! Future winters won’t seem as cold! Kristi also spent time this week finalising travel arrangements to Poland in September for the International Steering Committee : Spring Alive Project and on Wednesday, the regular Country College Junior Bird Club meeting. Lucky spent time this week out in the field on tours. Reported sightings include Coqui Francolin in Jankieshoek, Blue Korhaan and Pink-billed Lark at Fickland Pan. Friday afternoon saw Kristi launch the Smiley’s Junior Bird Club in Wakkerstroom. A whopping 80 children between the ages of 5 and 15 – definitely a mix for fun times! On Saturday the Centre was a hive of activity, with a 70th birthday party hiring our facilities. Kristi also attended the Wakkerstroom Natural Heritage Association’s bi-monthly meeting.
On Monday, Mark Anderson and Fanie du Plessis met with Chevaughn Nagiah to discuss the overall setup of the new BirdLife South Africa website which will be construction soon. on Tuesday, Fanie handled the 6-monthly ABC audit of African Birdlife magazine, which was successfully completed. On Thursday, he chaired the membership committee meeting (see below). Mark Anderson was on leave from mid-Tuesday.
It was a busy week for the Membership Programme with processing the last of the July bank statements. The membership team met with Chevaughn Nagiah for a website development meeting. A membership committee meeting was held on Thursday 3 August 2017.