Birds and People
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|Familiar Chat September 2015 Spring Current Issues||Newsletter||
Chit Chat Monthly walks We organize a monthly walk, which takes place on the first Sunday of every month. We meet at Molapo Crossing in Gaborone at 6.30am in the summer and 8.30am in the winter. We will send you a reminder the week before with some details about where we are going. Beginners most welcome! It’s mine, all mine! Don’t forget to visit our shops Gaborone shop is next door to Cafe Dijo at Kgale Spar complex, the one in Kasane is in the Audi Centre and in Francistown it is in the Ngwato Boswa Museum.
|Bird Conservation No.12 December 2006||Newsletter||
The 12 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Botswana are vital for the long-term survival of Botswana’s avifauna. Not surprisingly, since birds are well-known as useful environmental indicators, they are also increasingly being recognised as important reservoirs of biodiversity generally. This means that BirdLife Botswana, in its quest to improve the status of these IBAs, is making a valuable contribution to biodiversity conservation in the country, and helping to meet Botswana’s commitments under the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD). BirdLife has developed a scientific framework for monitoring IBAs, and this is being implemented by BirdLife Botswana and other partners. The monitoring strategy involves measuring the condition (or state) of the IBA, scoring the pressures (or threats) that exist, and ranking the response (conservation action taken to address the threats) in such a way that an overall score can be obtained for each IBA at a given time. By repeating this monitoring at prescribed intervals, and relating the score obtained to the previous score, it can be seen whether or not there has been an improvement in the state of each IBA. The implication of this over-simplified description of BirdLife’s IBA monitoring system is that there is now a simple, objective way of measuring the success (or otherwise) of biodiversity conservation activities. Although signatories to the CBD are obliged to show that they have made significant improvements to biodiversity conservation, this has not been easy to do in the absence of a credible, unbiased system. BirdLife has been breaking new ground and has developed one of the first workable models that will enable Governments to measure changes in the state of the environment based on their biodiversity conservation efforts. This is just one way in which BirdLife remains relevant to a wider audience, and contributes to addressing mainstream issues throughout the world. Pete Hancock.
|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!
|Familiar Chat March 2015 Current Issues||Newsletter||
BirdLife Botswana had long advocated for Botswana to officially name a national bird. On May 12, 2014 that finally happened when the Kori Bustard, Ardeotis kori, was named Botswana’s National Bird. Although several other birds have been thought to be Botswana’s national bird, none of these had ever been officially named as such. The internet and various publications have listed half a dozen different birds as Botswana’s national bird, with the Lilac-breasted Roller and the Cattle Egret being the ones most often claimed to be. However, Botswana never had officially designated a national bird until May 2014. The other new national symbols named at the same time as the Kori Bustard were the Morula as the National Tree, Motshikiri(Thatching grass) as the National Grass and Sengaparile (Devil’s Claw) as the National Flower/plant. The new national tree, grass and flower/plant reflect the traditional uses of these plants for food, roofing for houses and medicine. No national mammal was named but the Zebra occurs on the Coat of Arms developed in 1966 and is without doubt considered the national animal/mammal symbol of Botswana by the government and the people.
|Bird Conservation No.13 March 2007||Newsletter||
The African continent is home to an amazing 2,313 of the world’s 9,917 bird species, of which just over 10% (234) are globally threatened. One of the significant threats to Africa’s birds is the illegal trade in wild birds, and at a recent Council meeting of the African Partnership of BirdLife (CAP) it was agreed that a position statement on bird trade should be developed. The factor prompting discussion about the bird trade was primarily its effect on the African Grey Parrot, and the BirdLife partnership has subsequently worked (successfully) towards achieving a total ban on trade in this species. However, numerous other species are negatively affected by the bird trade, for example the Grey Crowned Crane and Shoebill. (Closer to home, there has been some cross-border trade in Kori Bustards – one of our Birds of Concern). At the CAP meeting, partners were unanimous in opposing the trade in wild birds with one cautionary proviso – that an exception be made in cases where rural communities benefit from organised legal trade. In Botswana, there is very little trade in wild birds, and certainly none undertaken by rural communities. Despite the small-scale capture and trade operations currently being carried out, problems have been experienced with determining sustainable offtake quotas and monitoring these operations. In view of this, and the potential the bird trade may have in spreading avian flu, it is BirdLife Botswana’s contention that trade in any wild birds should be totally banned in this country. If you have any different views, or a contribution to make to this discussion, we’d appreciate hearing from you. Pete Hancock.
|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..
|Conservation Newsletter 38 "Birds and People"-Current Issues||Newsletter||
BirdLife Botswana is rapidly transforming itself from a social bird-watching club to a scientifically-based, professional bird conservation agency, and the advent of this newsletter is in keeping with that trend. The newsletter picks up on the interest generated by a modest, four-page BirdLife Botswana handout entitled “BOTSWANA BIRDS CONSERVATION“, that was sent out three years ago; as a result of this, we now have a substantial and growing network of field birders who contribute regular information to BirdLife Botswana’s bird database, and who play a role in monitoring and conserving birds in their areas.
The primary purpose of this newsletter therefore, is to provide feedback to people in the network; the subscription fee is in the hard currency of information! Please feel free to pass your copy on to someone else who you know would like to play an active role in bird monitoring and conservation. Download the conservation newsletter here in .pdf format
|Bird Conservation No.14 June 2007||Newsletter||
BirdLife Botswana is an organisation on the move. Since 2002, our staff complement has increased to seven full-time employees (including one Japanese volunteer). Our annual income has also increased - almost fifty-fold, from a mere P20,000 per annum to close to P1 million in 2006 as our efforts to conserve Botswana’s birds have escalated. A great deal of the success of our organisation is directly attributed to the efforts of (among others) Kabelo Senyatso who, in 2002, was identified by the BirdLife Botswana Committee in Gaborone as its first full-time employee. He subsequently received a scholarship from BirdLife Botswana to undertake an MSc in Conservation Biology at the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town. Since completing in 2004, he has made BirdLife Botswana his calling in life. He has been working tirelessly to set the organisation’s direction and to generate bird conservation projects and secure funding while at the same time building partnerships with other stakeholders. It is therefore appropriate that Kabelo has been appointed as the first Director of BirdLife Botswana as from May this year. I hope that all readers of this newsletter will join with me in congratulating him on his well-deserved promotion. In addition to his workload as Director, he will be embarking on his PhD early in 2008. Pete Hancock
|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.
|Conservation Newsletter 37 "Birds and People"-Current Issues||Newsletter||
People from all walks of life connect with birds in one way or another. I don’t know anyone who isn’t moved by their beauty and vitality, and the dawn chorus of awakening birds is a great way to start the day. Some people are inspired by birds’ ability to fly so effortlessly, while others find their varied behaviours interesting and worth studying. The incredible feats shown by migratory species which fly vast distances and call the world their oyster, are a source of wonderment to us all. Many birds are valued as food, and the bright feathers of some species are used for decoration or ceremonial purposes. Whatever your interest, birds share the planet with us and it will be a vastly impoverished world without them. Pete Hancock
|Bird Conservation No.15 September 2007||Newsletter||
This issue contains a wealth of interesting information on vultures (among other things), and readers may wonder why we have chosen to focus on this particular group of birds. It is because all African vultures, with very few exceptions, are now recognised as being Globally Threatened – including even the seemingly abundant White-backed Vulture. The well-known, catastrophic decline of Asian vultures in the short space of little more than a decade, has also highlighted the vulnerability of this group of birds to extinction. Vultures occupy a precarious position at the top of the food pyramid, as any disorder lower down in the food chain impacts particularly severely on scavengers. The Cape Vulture has long been regarded as a bird of concern in Botswana and the proclamation of Mannyelanong Game Reserve by the Botswana Government in 1985 was one of the first initiatives on the continent to protect a vulture’s breeding area. However, the Lappet-faced Vulture was also subsequently recognised as a ‘red data book’ species, followed recently by the White-headed and White-backed Vultures. It is for this reason that BirdLife Botswana has launched a project entitled ‘The Lappet-faced Vulture – a flagship for threatened raptors in Botswana’ and we are slowly gathering data on the numbers and distribution of vultures and other raptors, as well as an insight into the threats that face them. Botswana undoubtedly has important populations of the five major southern African vulture species, but this situation seems set to change if conservation action for the species is not undertaken. Particularly disturbing has been the discovery of a poisoning incident on a Hainaveld farm late last year where 80 vultures were needlessly killed when a Sketch: D Butchart Bird Conservation Newsletter # 15 - September, 2007 2 farmer put out poison for lions that had been marauding his cattle – this may just be ‘the tip of the iceberg’. Hence this editorial – vultures are a beleaguered group, and we urge members of the public to continue to send us information on all species in Botswana. 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
|Conservation Newsletter 36 December 2012 "Birds and People"-Current Issues||Newsletter||
This issue of Birds is dedicated to Zee Mpofu, former wildlife Biologist in the Department of Wildlife and National Parks who passed away recently…
|Bird Conservation No.16 December 2007||Newsletter||
It is a peculiar quirk of many conservationists, shared by birdwatchers too, that they place an inordinate amount of emphasis and importance on Red Data books. Admittedly these doomsday books are useful for highlighting species requiring urgent conservation attention, but no-one seems to dwell much on their negative connotations or pay much attention to the fact that Red Data books are an indictment on our effectiveness in conserving birds. Countries with more globally threatened species are considered more important than those which have healthy bird populations – gone are the days of prevention being better than cure! This perversity is mirrored by birdwatchers who would rather go to a biologically impoverished area to see the few remaining individuals of a species, than visit a pristine environment such as the Okavango Delta which harbours a large number of more common birds. Similarly, donors seem more impressed by lists of Critically Endangered species than by requests for funding to maintain core populations of a large number of bird species. Against this background, Red Data lists seem to be continually expanding, reflecting our reluctance to remove birds from the list, and/or our inability to stem biodiversity loss?
|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