SEABIRD CONSERVATION PROGRAMME

Albatross Task Force

Andrea Angel assisted researchers on Marion Island, working on the mice bait uptake trials with solving issues around unexpected results, as well as coordinating inputs from experts on what research still needs to happen to address these. She engaged with Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) around the 30-day public consultation period on program improvements. Reason Nyengera left for sea on a demersal hake longline vessel on Tuesday; last we heard they were steaming towards Namibia.

Common Oceans

Bronwyn Maree liaised with BirdLife International looking into the linkages between the various Port-based Outreach projects and assisted with a questionnaire aimed at compiling information on bird-scaring lines available to Asian longline fleets. She has also been liaising with and finalising the logistics of the new Port-based Outreach Officer based in Fiji who starts at the beginning of October. He will attend a training workshop in Cape Town and meet the team. Pete Watt-Pringle has been working on additional materials and liaison related to the Port-based Outreach pilot project in Cape Town. He also conducted a training session on seabird bycatch mitigation for an Indonesian-speaking translator who will be assisting the Common Oceans project with an upcoming Indonesian Observer Training Workshop. Nini van der Merwe wrote an article for the upcoming Common Oceans Tuna Project newsletter, outlining all the National Awareness Workshops (NAW) that have been hosted since the inception of the project. She also communicated with Namibia and Mozambique regarding the upcoming Observer Training Workshop (OTW) and finalised some details for the Indonesian OTW. The Brazil NAW, set for December 2017, is also in the process of being organised, with various stakeholders needing to be considered.

Coastal seabirds

Christina Hagen prepared for next week’s trip to Plettenberg Bay for a site visit to the potential new African Penguin colony site and associated meetings. She also investigated options for cameras for remote monitoring of the new penguin colony sites. She and Dr Ernst Baard from CapeNature, met with Mark Anderson, Roger Wanless and Ross Wanless to discuss partnerships and technical aspects around the De Hoop penguin colony project.

TERRESTRIAL BIRD CONSERVATION PROGRAMME

Hanneline Smit-Robinson and Mark Anderson met with Dr Guy Preston and Mr Umesh Bahadur regarding opportunities for BirdLife South Africa and Working for Wetlands to collaborate on several projects. Hanneline, Linda van den Heever and Melissa Whitecross met with Catherine Bothma, HDI marketing, regarding the Flufftail Festival and Waxi the Hero puppet show production. Hanneline also participated in a Skype meeting with Andre Botha as part of the planning for the hosting of the Raptor Research Foundation conference in Skukuza, Kruger Park in November 2018. Hanneline had an update meeting with Kishaylin Chetty, Senior Environmental Advisor, for Eskom. Hanneline, assisted by an interview panel, discussed and finalised their decision regarding the appointment of the BirdLife South Africa Ingula Project Manager. Linda van den Heever travelled to the Eastern Cape to collect samples for the lead project, and compiled an interim report on results achieved thus far. Threatened avian breeding assessments continued this week on Lanner Falcon and Southern Bald Ibis at Ingula. Robin Colyn continued extensive work on the White-winged Flufftail occupancy modelling data analyses as part of the high altitude Rallidae study. A survey design was completed for the Rooifontein camera trapping project, as well as the remote sensing vegetation rehabilitation project. As part of an ongoing escarpment forest camera trap project, camera trap locations were serviced across the eastern escarpment study site. Robin finalised and collated the eastern escarpment threatened avian breeding survey results conducted from 2014 to 2017. Results from BirdLife South Africa’s high altitude threatened grassland project was collated and sent to BirdLife International this week as part of a process of reassessing the global red list status of respective species. Sam Ralston represented BirdLife South Africa at the International CMS (Convention on Migratory Species) Energy Task Force meeting in Bonn, Germany.

IBA PROGRAMME - NATIONAL

Daniel Marnewick is currently in the UK attending the Key Biodiversity Areas Committee meeting in Cambridge. Daniel presented the strategy for the KBA Community, as well as progress on the National KBA Coordination Groups for South Africa and Australia.

IBA PROGRAMME - REGIONAL CONSERVATION

Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Free State

During The African Bird Fair Ernst Retief and Henk Nel presented a BirdLasser workshop to about 40 people. This is the last in a series of workshops which began more than a year ago. On Monday evening Ernst attended the Northern Bird Club Regional Forum Meeting. During the meeting Ernst did a short presentation on the Biodiversity Stewardship work he is doing in the eastern Free State and other provinces. He also reported back on some of the other projects he is working on. On Thursday and Friday Ernst co-ordinated the Ford Global Month of Caring Project, at the Moreletakloof Bird Hide. Ford provided funds to buy paint and other materials to paint the hide and associated infrastructure. Nearly 50 Ford staff members assisted during the two days.

IBA PROGRAMME - PROJECTS

Verlorenvlei Protected Area Project

Samantha Schröder attended the Sandveld Conservation Committee Meeting on Thursday where the main focus was the drought in the Western Cape and the implications on the environment and the agricultural industry. She also liaised with CapeNature regarding the progress on the declaration of the Moutonshoek Protected Environment and finalised the design for the protected environment signage.

Cape Estuaries Stewardship Project

This week, the first meeting of the newly revived Lower Berg River Conservancy (Benede Bergrivier Bewarea) was held at Swaartjiesbaai, near Velddrif. The Conservancy now includes the original area, designated in 1997, as well as two new properties, to cover more than 20,000 ha. Giselle Murison presented feedback on the ongoing Biodiversity Stewardship negotiations at the estuary and led discussion on the proposed Ramsar site application for the lower Berg River. Giselle also met with landowners at the Klein River estuary this week regarding options for the formal protection of their property.  She finalised comments on the scoping reports for two solar energy facility applications at the Berg River estuary. 

POLICY & ADVOCACY PROGRAMME

Candice Stevens departs for the UK to visit RSPB and BirdLife International partners to discuss the strategic advancement of BirdLife South Africa’s Policy & Advocacy Programme (P&A) through international trends and best practice. Candice and Jono Booth discussed the details of the advocacy database and process flows, these are a vital components to BirdLife South Africa’s strategic engagement in P&A work and considerable progress has been made. Candice researched a new tax scenario regarding the deduction of conservation levies in Protected Areas. This received support from the National Biodiversity Tax Advisory Committee and has now been presented to SARS. Jono completed the advocacy database and process flows. The latter was done with input from a process engineering consultant who offered his time pro bono. He also started drafting the guidance document that will support our advocacy work. He attended a Phased Gas Pipeline SEA meeting at the CSIR in Pretoria, where he met some key SANBI officials and enabled the participation of BirdLife South Africa in this long term planning project (with potentially significant environmental impacts). He also engaged in advocacy work relating to development projects both on the highveld and in coastal regions. He attended the Northern Bird Club Regional Forum meeting where he introduced himself and the new P&A Programme to those present.

AVITOURISM & SPECIAL PROJECTS PROGRAMME

Martin Taylor spent the majority of the week working on the State of South Africa’s Bird Report as well as a conservation strategy for BirdLife South Africa. Preparations were made for an East Atlantic Flyway Initiative meeting which will be held on 22 September. Work was initiated on a proposal due to be sent to the Environmental Protection And Infrastructure Programme (EPIP) Fund of government. Contractual issues relating to SANBI and Swarovski Optik were completed. Ian Owtram spent the majority of the week conducting practical assessments of students completing the FGASA Level 1 examinations as well as making logistical preparations for the training of citizen scientists in Sekekhuneland and Mopani district municipalities.

WAKKERSTROOM

Kristi Garland was in Poland this week for Spring Alive meetings.

CORE

Mark Anderson and Hanneline Smit-Robinson met with Dr Guy Preston, DEA, re various collaborations. Mark also met with Lize Hough (regarding owl projects in Parkhurst) and Kevin Ritchie (Managing Editor, Independent Newspapers). The monthly Board of Directors meeting was held on Wednesday, and the bi-monthly African Birdlife Magazine Management Committee Meeting was held on Thursday. Fanie du Plessis and Shireen Gould attended the Northern Bird Club Regional Forum meeting on Monday. Mark and Roger Wanless (BirdLife South Africa’s Chairman) spent Thursday and Friday in Cape Town where they attended a number of meetings, including with Jerome Morkel (Tandym Printers), Eve Gracie (Editor of African Birdlife), and Ismail Bhorat (BirdLife South Africa Board member). They also attended a dinner with Bird South Africa donors on Thursday evening, attended the Centre for Environmental Rights AGM on Friday, and met with the Seabird Conservation Programme on Friday.

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