Birds and People
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|Birds and People No.34 June 2012||Newsletter||
Is sustainable development an oxymoron? Conservation and sustainable development are, in essence, about balancing human populations with natural resources. However, it seems as though human numbers are rapidly outstripping the capacity of the earth to support them. At every turn, compromises are made to benefit people (in the short term) at the expense of our natural resources capital. In Botswana, the original national objective of sustained development has become transformed into sustainable development, and now this concept is being firmly entrenched on the political agenda following the Summit for Sustainability. Read about this exciting initiative on the opposite page. It may just be that sustainable development is an achievable reality! Pete Hancock
|Birds and People No.33 March 2012||Newsletter||
This issue features several articles on vultures. This group of birds is under serious threat in Africa, and during 2011, the Hooded Vulture was added to the list of species in Botswana that are globally threatened. It went straight from the category Least Concern to Endangered. This is a bird we take for granted in Botswana, as it is still reasonably common within its range in the northern parts of the country; however, its populations have all but collapsed elsewhere in Africa. Currently, the Whitebacked Vulture is our most numerous vulture, but it is predicted to join the Hooded in the Endangered category soon if declines throughout the rest of Africa continue. Urgent conservation action is required. Pete Hancock
|Birds and People No.32 December 2011||Newsletter||
It is a moot point whether bird conservation is about birds or people—it is about both, as encapsulated in the slogan ‘together for birds and people”. The previous issue of the newsletter had a picture of a bird on the cover; now it is time to feature a person. And who better than BirdLife Botswana’s Chairperson/Acting-Director, Harold Hester who has been shouldering responsibility for the organization full-time since 2009 when Kabelo Senyatso embarked on his PhD through the University of East Anglia. Rumour has it that no-one is happier to see Kabelo back than Harold! Our front cover articles opposite pay tribute to Harold, and challenge Kabelo to ‘hit the ground running!’ Without people, bird conservation does not take place ... Pete Hancock
|Birds and People No.31 September 2011||Newsletter||
Its been another busy quarter with BirdLife Botswana staff involved in a number of bird conservation initiatives throughout the country. This newsletter is part of our commitment to share our interesting work and, in the process of doing so, to make bird information relevant and available to everybody. The new face to the newsletter is thus part of the move to attract a greater readership, and to keep pace with the times. I can’t quite visualize you lying in bed reading the newsletter on your laptop, but I can see in my mind’s eye, you reading it on your computer at work, while your boss thinks you’re studiously beavering away at your job! For those people who like to have a hard copy in their hands, or who don’t have such easy access to computers and the internet, a pdf version will still always be available. Happy reading! Pete Hancock: Editor
|Birds and People No.30 June 2011||Newsletter||
The recent passing of Hew Penry, well-known as Author of The Bird Atlas of Botswana, marks as and end of era in birding cycles in Southern Africa.
|Birds and People No.29 March 2011||Newsletter||
Never a dull moment! As one threat to the envronment diminshes,another is sure to raise its head. Thus we are faced with continual challenges which keeps us always on our toes..
|Birds and People No.28 December 2010||Newsletter||
The role of birds as environmental indicators is well-known – they are charismatic and conspicuous, and many are easy to identify, making them ideal candidates for monitoring. Bird-rich areas have been found to be rich in biodiversity, so birds are a good proxy for other organisms too. Now you couple these factors with a cadre of amateur (but competent) birdwatchers, and you have a recipe for an early warning system that can contribute directly to human wellbeing. It is our aim at BirdLife Botswana to establish a network of ‘citizen scientists’ who will participate in Bird Population Monitoring and Waterbird Counts that will provide information on the threats to biodiversity posed by - among other things - land-use changes and pollution (including the use of pesticides). These citizens will not just view their participation in scientific monitoring as a hobby, but as a vital contribution to piecing together the jigsaw puzzle of biodiversity conservation. They will understand that the data they provide – no matter how small or seemingly isolated – will directly influence recommendations to government regarding environmental policy and actions. Their participation will ultimately improve the quality of life for everyone in Botswana by improving the health of the environment. This editorial is a ‘call to arms’ to all those who are interested in joining us in this quest for a better world – contact your nearest BirdLife Botswana branch now!
|Birds and People No.27 September 2010||Newsletter||
For the past several years, the Independence Day fishing competition at the end of September has been held in the Okavango Panhandle, coinciding with the peak breeding time for the Near Threatened African Skimmer. This species nests on exposed sandbanks along the Okavango River, and the presence of a large number of fishermen and their boats has had a negative impact on its breeding success. This year however, the fishing competition is under new management, and the organiser, Heather Clark from Bush Boutique in Maun has agreed to move the venue to Chanoga on the Boteti River. BirdLife Botswana commends Bush Boutique for this change of location, and we hope that this year’s competition is a great success. We are not against people who enjoy fishing (it’s much better than watching television!), and we believe that there is a place for birds and fishermen in the vastness of the Okavango; the upcoming fishing competition will be a test of whether this is true or not. Incidentally, we also applaud the ‘catch and release’ approach to the fishing competition, and Bush Boutique’s efforts to guarantee that fishermen adhere to the “Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing in the Okavango Delta” and other regulations introduced to protect the environment, thereby ensuring a ‘win-win’ situation for all involved. Pete Hancock
|Birds and People No.26 June 2010||Newsletter||
At present, Northern Botswana is abuzz with the return of the big Okavango floods! A combination of recharged groundwater from last year’s flood, good rainfall over the Delta this season, and a healthy inflow down the Okavango River, has resulted in floodwaters reaching areas that have been dry since the seventies. The front of the flood has already reached Maun, and it’s starting to get a little wet! The annual flood-pulse is the lifeblood of the Okavango, and is awaited with keen anticipation. However, the arrival of this year’s flood seems to be viewed with some ambivalence, depending on one’s circumstance. I am reminded of the apt quote from Paula Zucula, Head of the National Disaster Institute in Mocambique “In real terms, floods are good. They play a good role ecologically. What makes them disasters are vulnerable people”.
|Birds and People No.25 March 2010||Newsletter||
2010 got off to a great start with a proposal to create a Flamingo Sanctuary in the southern part of Sua Pan taking shape. This sanctuary will be a major contribution to the conservation of the Lesser Flamingo, a Near Threatened species, and its unique habitat - part of the Makgadikgadi Pans Important Bird Area in central Botswana. All credit for this initiative must go to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, and to communities living in the vicinity of the southern part of Sua Pan, who have wholeheartedly supported this project. BirdLife Botswana extends its sincere congratulations to the Director and staff of the Wildlife Department for taking the initiative to protect this internationally important site. Read more about this in the lead article overleaf. Pete Hancock
|Birds and People No.24 December 2009||Newsletter||
One of the challenges of conserving birds in a semi-arid country like Botswana is that many species, especially waterbirds, are highly nomadic and mobile, and react to the occurrence of locally favourable habitat conditions. Thus it is that waterbird numbers in Botswana have recently burgeoned with the return of high flood levels in the major rivers in the northern part of the country, and the increased extent of flooding.
|Birds and People No.23 September 2009||Newsletter||
It is somehow ironic that the 5th of September was celebrated as International Vulture Awareness Day throughout the world, and yet here I sit looking at the carcase of a White-backed Vulture poisoned yesterday on the fringes of the Okavango Delta (one of over 50 vultures killed together). This is a bad time of the year for our vultures – August 2007 saw over 50 birds being poisoned in the Hainaveld, October 2008, over 50