SEABIRD CONSERVATION PROGRAMME
Bronwyn Maree met with an official for the Fisheries Protection Vessels directorate to discuss the training of sea-based fisheries compliance officers. She has also worked on finalising various reports. Philip Augustyn and Christina Hagen interviewed and recruited a volunteer to assist with photo analysis tasks for their respective projects. Philip completed reports for the port-based outreach program. Nini van der Merwe drafted an MoA between BirdLife South Africa and BirdLife International for work to be done for the Global Seabird Bycatch Project. She also provided support for colleagues in Rome in preparation of the Project Steering Committee Meeting happening in mid-July.
Albatross Task Force
Andrea Angel has been occupied with shaping a grant proposal for the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association, seeking funding for the development of marine Key Biodiversity Areas work in South Africa. Reason Nyengera left for sea on a demersal hake longline vessel this week. Makhudu Masotla facilitated the inspection of two pelagic longline vessel, with Fisheries Compliance Officers from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, as part of their ongoing training in the compliance aspects of seabird bycatch mitigation measures.
Taryn Morris attended a DAFF small pelagics scientific working group meeting where she gave a presentation on progress of the island closure analyses. She also worked on budgets and reporting needs to prepare for handover in her absence. Christina Hagen went to the De Hoop Nature Reserve site where the African Penguin colony will be established with a heritage assessor to provide a report and preservation recommendations for the shell midden there. Andrew de Blocq was on leave until Friday, enjoying the birds of warmer climes in KwaZulu-Natal. On Friday, the calm weather finally allowed him to depart for penguin fieldwork on Robben Island.
Ross Wanless was in Dakar, Senegal this week, assisting with the induction of new seabird team members in the W Africa office.
TERRESTRIAL BIRD CONSERVATION PROGRAMME
Hanneline Smit-Robinson and Linda van den Heever attended the quarterly BirdLife South Africa Ethics Committee meeting. The Raptor Research Foundation committee meeting was attended by Hanneline, Linda and Melissa Whitecross – this international conference will be co-hosted by BirdLife South Africa and EWT in Skukuza in November 2018. Hanneline interviewed Dr Rob Little, at the launch of his new book “Birding in South Africa’s National Parks” at Isdell House on Thursday evening. Several reports and proposals were completed and submitted. Linda continued work on a research paper on lead poisoning in South Africa’s vultures. Robin Colyn finalised and submitted the Southern Bald Ibis scientific article for peer review this week. The majority of the week was spent on data collation, analyses and literature reviews related to the Threatened Highland Grassland Species project. Furthermore, logistics and survey design plans were finalised for the upcoming White-winged Flufftail study in Ethiopia. Melissa Whitecross supervised Cameron Crole (Grade 9) who was job shadowing for two days this week. Melissa and Linda surveyed the Magaliesberg Black Stork nest sites and found a pair displaying but not yet breeding. Melissa wrote up the high-level objectives for the Southern Banded Snake Eagle Project and submitted the final Secretarybird dispersal publication to Dr Alan Kemp for review. Carina Coetzer completed and submitted the monthly and quarterly reports, commenced with the monthly avifaunal surveys, and continued monitoring the active Martial Eagle nest on Ingula, and the Bearded Vulture nest in the Wilge Stewardship area. Sakhile Mthalane provided assistance as needed with implementing the firebreaks.
Sam Ralston had a very encouraging Skype meeting with representatives from a Canadian company that is considering taking over the controversial wind farm proposed near Letseng la Terea and asked to meet to understand BirdLife South Africa’s concerns about the project. We also responded to the IUCN’s request for an update on the status of the above project. Sam and Nndwa Muhale reviewed the latest draft of Dr Rob Simmons’ guidelines for Black Harrier and wind farms. Sam also reviewed the operational-phase monitoring reports from two PV solar facilities.
Landscape Analysis & Project Development
Daniel Marnewick, Ernst Retief and Dale Wright held an IBA Programme management meeting via skype on Monday morning.
Estuary IBA Conservation Project
Giselle Murison visited the site of a potential building development at a riparian property on the Klein River estuary, near Hermanus this week. She carried out bird surveys at the Bot River and Klein River estuaries, which form part of the Cape Whale Coast Important Bird and Biodiversity Area. Giselle also visited landowners at the Berg River estuary to share the findings of the recent Biodiversity Site Assessment of their properties. She spent much of the week drafting comments on the Resource Unit Prioritisation Report and the proposed Resource Quality Objectives Report for the Berg River catchment, and preparing an outline of a funding concept proposal.
Dale Wright completed and submitted a terms for reference for legal support for aspects of our Estuary Protected Area Expansion Project, specifically resolving issues regarding un-surveyed land and governance arrangements for estuaries.
Mistbelt Grassland and Forest Conservation Project
Progress was made this week in finalising the correct title deed and survey diagram information for incorporation into declaration agreements for both Tillietudlem and Trewirgie. Tillietudlem will be finalising survey diagrams of their proposed nature reserve area in the next few weeks and Trewirgie are making minor corrections to their survey diagrams which are otherwise mostly complete. The land owner of Sunnyvale still needs to survey the boundaries of the intended nature reserve out of his overall property boundaries. Steve McKean will be addressing this with him in the next month. This has to be done before a declaration agreement can be finalised and signed.
Supporting Biodiversity Stewardship
Daniel Marnewick edited the next draft of the Biodiversity Stewardship Guideline. This is an exciting document which aims to support the improved implementation of biodiversity stewardship to facilitate Privately Protected Area declarations.
Dale Wright spent time revising a recently completed report on Enhancing Biodiversity Stewardship in South Africa for submission to a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
Karoo Research and Conservation Project
Dr Alan Lee recently undertook another scoping visit to parts of the Karoo near Calvinia, to establish monitoring sites for the upcoming field season. His blog post entries for these trips are always informative and entertaining: http://bluehillescape.
Data Management Project
A draft BirdLife South Africa Data Sharing Agreement and metadata template were submitted to programme managers for their comments. These documents are mentioned in the draft Data Management Policy which is currently under consideration.
IBA/KBAs and bird data and Spatial planning Project
Ernst Retief assisted Philip Calinikos and the City of Tshwane with a waterbird count at the Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary. Ernst Retief wrote a series of short articles about SABAP2 for the BirdLife South Africa E-newsletter.
Regional and Global Key Biodiversity Areas
Daniel Marnewick organised the Key Biodiversity Areas National Coordination Group peer-sharing conference scheduled for next week. Daniel submitted a funding proposal to Conventional on Biological Diversity (CBD) Bio-Bridge fund for the BASPA project. Daniel and Candice Stevens had a meeting with Ademola Ajagbe and Kiragu Mwangi (BirdLife International) to plan how the BirdLife African Partners can coordinate their support for key regional programmes, most notably the 2019 African Parks Congress.
Awareness for IBA & KBA Conservation
Ernst Retief did more work on documents for various projects such as the birding around Memel document, the study to determine the protection status of birds, and the annotated checklist series. Four of the conservation programme managers had a Conservation Division meeting to improve collaboration across the programmes.
POLICY & ADVOCACY PROGRAMME
Candice Stevens received confirmation this week that her work on introducing South Africa’s first biodiversity tax incentive has been recognised and published as a global solution for protected areas. Candice’s solution may be viewed on the Panorama – solutions for a healthy planet website. Candice was requested by the International Land Conservation Network as well as the United Nations Development Programme to contribute the case study for South Africa on Privately Protected Areas (PPAs) in relation to the Future’s Report. Candice is thrilled to be able to showcase South Africa’s work around PPAs as well as tax incentives in this international publication. Following along this line of work, Candice contributed comments and expert input into further publications on PPAs as well as Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures (OECMs) this week, particularly as this is an important discussion piece in the build up to the Conference of the Parties in 2018 and 2020. Candice also welcomed BirdLife South Africa’s first official Vacation Work Candidate, Elelwani Makhuvha, to the Policy & Advocacy (P&A) Programme. Elelwani will be job shadowing and assisting the P&A Programme during her July university holidays. We are very excited about her contribution to the team. Candice spent a considerable amount of energy this week in dealing with litigation that BirdLife South Africa is engaged in, in our fight to safeguard South Africa’s protected areas.
Jonathan Booth assisted with the drafting and editing of various BirdLife South Africa position statements which will be an important component of our advocacy work. He engaged with various stakeholders (mines and other NGOs) with regards to the extensive mining threats faced by the Devon Grassland Important Bird and Biodiversity Area; a meeting has been arranged in order to develop collaborative approach to the threats. Jonathan also had a second meeting with the environmental consultant undertaking a housing development EIA in the vicinity of Kamfers dam in Kimberly, this is one of three breeding sites for Lesser Flamingo’s in Africa and globally; attempts to achieve a positive outcome for conservation continue. Policy and Advocacy were to encouraged to receive positive news with regards to the Letseng Windfarm development which the BirdLife South Africa’s Birds and Renewable Energy Project (Samantha Ralston-Paton) and the Policy & Advocacy Programme have advocated against.
Elelwani Makhuvha joined BirdLife South Africa this week to be the first Vacation Work Candidate for the Policy & Advocacy Programme (P&A). Elelwani contributed to the July newsletter by drafting the segment on the vac-work programme candidate. Elelwani had the opportunity to join Candice Stevens on a skype meeting with the Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB). Elelwani is drafting the text for the new P&A website and compiling photographs from various sources to be used by the P&A programme. Elelwani is researching on Convention for Biological Diversity for her presentation as part of the vac-work programme and compiling a presentation with the help from the P&A staff. Elelwani has been researching the recent land ownership statistics for South Africa, compiling reports and data reviews and learning various administrative skills. Elelwani had an insightful career and self-development meeting with Isabel Human.
AVITOURISM & SPECIAL PROJECTS PROGRAMME
Work was completed on a Darwin Initiative application for work at Mt Moco, Angola. Planning for the revision of the regional Red List of birds was started. A RSPB/BirdLife International partner development meeting was attended via Skype. Martin Taylor attended to several issues relating to the bird guide training programme as well as planned PIB tour scheduled for October. A visit was made to Kapama Private Game Reserve to check on the progress of Eddy Khosa who is a participant in the BirdLife South Africa learnership programme. A meeting was held with Michel Giradin of Djuma Private Game Reserve to settle the conditions of Lungile Mteyane's learnership contract.
Jacana Media held a book launch on Thursday evening for Rob Little’s new book entitled Birding in South Africa’s National Parks. Shireen Gould and Deborah Hele hosted the event at Isdell House and its Shop for the Birds! was also open. We had an attendance of 26 guests who enjoyed hearing about the book over a glass of wine and snacks.