SEABIRD CONSERVATION PROGRAMME
Bronwyn Maree dedicated a fair amount of this week to planning and strategizing for the Port-based Outreach pilot projects, including contracts, budgets, Skype meeting agendas and upcoming reporting schedules. She also worked through various reports and finalized outstanding budgets. Philip Augustyn submitted the final draft of the Pilot Transshipment Photo Analysis report. He is currently completing the PBO mid-term report. Arrangements for Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) are being made and Philip has been liaising with Stephanie Winnard (RSPB) for plans moving forward. Philip is still assisting Global Fishing Watch (GFW) in recognizing setting behaviour of data that was provided to them for testing purposes. Nini van der Merwe and Ross Wanless had a few Skype calls with project partners to facilitate the work required to complete the final Global Seabird Bycatch Assessment. They also worked on getting budgets finalized and contract extensions in place for project staff.
Nini wrote an article for African Birdlife magazine on the fundraising aspect of the project, and she also finalized some paperwork required for the National Geographic Grant application.
Albatross Task Force
Reason Nyengera spend most of his time transferring Demersal Longline seabirds observations data from the old data system to the newly updated data system. He also worked on the Atlas of Seabirds at Sea (AS@S) data entry. Reason Nyengera and Andrea Angel had a meeting with CapMarine Observer agency, aimed at increasing seabirds observer coverage on the inshore trawl fishery. Andrea also had an important and productive meeting with Rory Crawford over Skype. Makhudu Masotla made corrections and submitted the Capricorn marine fisheries trip report from Santa Cruz. He entered the seabird data from the trip and the Bird Scaring Line (BSL) trials conducted in the dataset, and submitted a trip report. He also visited Cape Town Harbour for a port visit and to look for a sea trip.
Christina Hagen met with a potential funder for the new colony project, planned for further site visits to the De Hoop colony site and followed up on work done by a volunteer to process camera trap photos from De Hoop and Plettenberg Bay. She also worked on updating the Responsible Fisheries Alliance website. Andrew de Blocq worked on improvements for the West African seabird report draft, corresponded with collaborators on a citizen science review paper, and further engaged with the DEA and SAEON on issues related to the Atlas of Seabirds at Sea (AS@S) project.
TERRESTRIAL BIRD CONSERVATION PROGRAMME
Hanneline Smit-Robinson attended several meetings, including with colleagues from Rand Water and Ingula Partnership (Eskom). Hanneline was interviewed by eNuus (Kyknet) for a contribution on BirdLife South Africa’s White-winged Flufftail project. Hanneline and Robin Colyn prepared for their upcoming trip to the International Ornithological Conference and finalised posters that will be presented at this conference. Robin worked on several draft publications. A Black Story survey was completed this week by Linda van den Heever, Melissa Whitecross, Ernst Retief and Fanie du Plessis. For a second consecutive year, BirdLife South Africa was granted permission to survey the length of the Levuvhu River in the northern regions of the Kruger National Park, an area that was previously regarded as a stronghold for the Black Stork. Carina Coetzer completed several avifaunal surveys on Ingula, as well as research and planning for the upcoming breeding season’s monitoring of the bigger Southern Bald Ibis project.
Sam Ralston worked on two journal papers which she will co-author. Nndwa Muhale and Sam have been working on the next Birds and Renewable Energy Update and on BirdLife South Africa’s position statements.
Estuary IBA Conservation Project
On Tuesday, Giselle Murison and Dale Wright met with the legal team for the Estuaries Conservation Project to discuss the next steps in the project and the legal review for the formal protection of state-owned land at key estuarine ecosystems. Giselle had Skype meetings with riparian property owners at the Klein River estuary, to discuss the process and timescales around declaring their properties as part of a co-managed Nature Reserve, and to review the outline Management Agreement. She spent much of the rest of the week finalising the botanical and bird species lists for properties entering into the stewardship programme at the Berg River estuary, finalising comments on a Berg River Improvement Plan (BRIP) Project funding proposal and reworking the draft of a funding proposal for an Estuary Conservation Programme in the Western Cape.
South African Key Biodiversity Areas
Daniel Marnewick, with Candice Stevens, met with Kallie Naude from the Department of Environmental Affairs to discuss a new project being implemented jointly by BirdLife South Africa’s IBA and P&A programmes. The project, funded by the Leonardo Di Caprio Foundation, will undertake a national assessment of ‘Other Effective Areas-based Conservation Mechanisms”, as described by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and develop an assessment methodology for other countries to use. This will be the first such country assessment, and will hopefully become a leading global case study.
Regional and Global Key Biodiversity Areas
Daniel Marnewick sent a number of emails to the Key Biodiversity Areas Community members, including funding options for countries to identify, map and conserve Key Biodiversity Areas, and informing members of the newly published IUCN document entitled “Tools for measuring, modelling, and valuing ecosystem services: Guidance for Key Biodiversity Areas, natural World Heritage sites, and protected areas.”
POLICY & ADVOCACY PROGRAMME
Candice Stevens, together with Daniel Marnewick, met with the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) this week to discuss the launch of new and exciting project: the first country review of Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures (OECMs). We received confirmation of the involvement and support from DEA regarding this review and the impacts it will have for policy surrounding Biodiversity Aichi Target 11 and the 2020 Biodiversity Framework. Candice also had meetings with the global BIOFIN team on other technical protected and conservation area policy contributions that she will be providing during August. Furthermore, Candice provided additional authorship and review regarding the Draft National Biodiversity Stewardship Best Practice Guidelines.
Jonathan Booth worked on some of our active advocacy cases, including the mining threats to the Devon Grasslands/Marievale Bird Sanctuary area. He also spent time updating and maintaining advocacy databases and records.
AVITOURISM & SPECIAL PROJECTS PROGRAMME
Martin Taylor spent the majority of the week working on aspects of the SPEED+ legislation review as well as the KAZA Birding Route business plan. Financial forecast for the programme was reviewed. A meeting was held with Admire Ndamane, a trainee guide based at Sefapane Lodge, Phalaborwa, to assess progress against his FGASA Level 2 study modules as well as readiness to undertake his specialist bird guide exam. A further meeting was held Lungile Mteyane to assess her progress. Preparation was undertaken for a site visit by ACSA scheduled for the 23/24 August 2018. A portion of time was spent dealing with guide applications to CATHSSETA. Work was undertaken on three specialist ID courses (wader, raptor and seabird) in preparation for 2019. Arrangements for a PIB October tour were finalised and a further tour scheduled for December 2018 was costed. A fair amount of time was spent preparing for the upcoming British Birdfair.
The Wakkerstroom Centre is still standing strong after a week of bitterly cold winds. Although most activities slowed down a bit, the Centre staff kept busy with various tasks indoors. Lucky Ngwenya and Kristi Garland finished off the touch-ups in both guest suites this week after the new tiles were laid. We are happy to announce that bookings for these suites is resuming. Daphne Pyott kept her administrative eye on all activities and administration whilst Kristi was out of the office. David Nkosi and Kristi spent time this week on the National Lotteries Biodiversity Stewardship Project” setting up next week’s meeting with the schools, preparing for learners programme activities along with all the catering requirements. Together they worked with a total of 120 learners across 3 schools, implementing activities such as the ecological pyramid tin game, birds in language and an introduction to basic birding. The highlight of all these visits is really when teachers participate in the activities and realise that learning about our natural world is not just limited to the natural science lessons, but can be brought into every lesson – spelling and language activities are those that the teachers really enjoy. It’s another busy week next week with us working with approximately 400 learners across 10 schools. The Working on Fire team assisted the Wakkerstroom Bird Club and Wakkerstroom Natural Heritage on Wednesday morning with clearing overgrown grass under the boardwalk down at main entrance to the wetland ahead of potential fires. On Friday morning Kristi attended the Wakkerstroom Bird Club committee meeting. She also completed the Wakkerstroom Natural Heritage Association’s newsflash before attending the WNHA’s committee meeting on Saturday morning.
Emma Askes returned to work after maternity leave. Mark Anderson presented a talk to the Rotary club at Harteebeestpoort Dam, had a lunch meeting with Dr Thommie Burger, a dinner meeting with Prof. Andrew McKechnie, and attended the IUCN South African Committee meeting in Pretoria. The Board packs for next week’s Board of Directors meeting were prepared and sent to the Board members.