Birds and People

Publication name Publication Type Description File
Bird Conservation No.7 September 2005 Newsletter

Many of BirdLife Botswana’s projects involve members of the public who collect information on birds (following strict procedures) and send it in to a central database where it is analysed scientifically. This is known as ‘citizen science’, the value of which cannot be over-emphasised. Take for example, the Bird Atlas of Botswana which documents the distribution of all species of birds found throughout the country – this highly-acclaimed work simply could not have been undertaken without the hundreds of birders who voluntarily contributed their sightings in an organised way. 

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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
in the Xudum Concession and now September this year, over 50 in the Xudum Concession once again. Over 152 organisations in 44 countries recognised International Vulture Awareness Day – an encouraging response considering that it was the first year that the date has been designated for vulture awareness. These figures tell me that vultures are widely appreciated by people throughout the world – what’s the problem here in Botswana? I have a feeling that as usual, we will only come to value these great birds when it is too late. Let’s hope that I am proved wrong. Pete Hancock

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Bird Conservation No.7 December 2008 Newsletter

The importance of organisations such as the BirdLife Partnership, RSPB and other ornithological institutions was once again brought to the fore during 2005, this time with the outbreak of Avian Flu in South-east Asia. In the face of widespread media hype, these organisations, which have access to up-to-date information on the disease and its transmission, were able to bring some common sense to the groundless panic that has spread
needlessly throughout the world.

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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.

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Bird Conservation No.9 March 2006 Newsletter

April 9th marks the first World Migratory Bird Day when people all over the globe will be celebrating the miracle of bird migration. Imagine a small warbler weighing less than 10 grams travelling thousands of kilometres from the northern hemisphere to the south and back again – a marvel of physical endurance coupled with awesome navigational skills! Or, the well-known Barn Swallow, which during its short lifetime, may travel over 100,000 kilometres! Bird migration is truly one of the wonders of the natural world.

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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

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Bird Conservation No.10 June 2006 Newsletter

Thinking globally and acting locally.… Herein lies one of the strengths of the BirdLife Partnership. The international perspective enables us to see the big picture - for example, the plight of threatened birds on a global scale. The network of partners at the national level enables us to collectively address this enormous challenge on the ground locally. For our part, we have been making steady progress with our work researching and monitoring the globally threatened birds that occur in Botswana. Over two decades ago, active members Wendy and Remi Borello initiated a rigorous, systematic Cape Vulture monitoring programme that still stands as a model today. Our Crane Working Group has developed a Species Action Plan for the Wattled Crane that serves as a blueprint for its conservation. Researcher (and BirdLife member) Graham McCulloch has been monitoring the flamingos of the Makgadikgadi wetland system. A BirdLife team, in conjunction with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, has conducted a baseline survey of the Slaty Egret, which will soon lead to the development of an Action Plan for this species. Our own Red Data Book for birds is well underway. We are soon to embark on a programme aimed at gathering data on another globally threatened species - the Lappet-faced Vulture. These and many other activities are our contribution to BirdLife’s global Species Programme, which aims to prevent the decline and extinction of bird species in the wild. Together we can and do make a difference! Pete Hancock.

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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”.

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Bird Conservation No.11 September 2006 Newsletter

Botswana’s Important Bird Areas (IBAs), of which there are currently 12, have been identified on the basis of objective international criteria and, together with other sites worldwide form a network of areas, at a biogeographic scale, critical for the long-term viability of naturally occurring bird populations. Not surprisingly, given that birds are good environmental indicators, these IBAs are also sites of high biodiversity importance. Thus the recognition and establishment of IBAs is a direct contribution to biodiversity conservation in Botswana, and IBA monitoring will go a long way towards meeting Botswana’s obligations as a signatory of the Convention on Biodiversity. Birds, perhaps more than any other life-forms, lend themselves to monitoring, and the BirdLife partnership has developed a global monitoring framework for IBAs that can be applied across the board – again using objective, scientifically defensible criteria, the status and trends of our IBAs can be measured. BirdLife Botswana is currently formalising its monitoring protocols for IBAs and will soon be in a position to report on any changes in bird diversity in these areas. Pressures on our IBAs will be identified, and appropriate conservation action taken to address these. The monitoring system will also allow us to measure whether or not the response to particular threats has been successful in mitigating them. The IBA monitoring framework is thus a valuable tool to have and will ensure that BirdLife’s activities result in tangible improvements to biodiversity conservation efforts in the country. As always, we recognise the power of partnerships and invite any like-minded organisations and individuals to join hands with us in our quest to improve biodiversity conservation in Botswana. In this way, we will make the world a better place for both birds and people. Together we can, and do, make a difference! Pete Hancock.

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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

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Familiar Chat June 2015 Current Issues Newsletter

BirdLife Shop extends it’s Range…!! The BirdLife Shop has gone country-wide! The Gaborone shop in the Kgale Mall has been joined by outlets in Kasane (at the Audi Centre) and in Francistown (Ngwao Boswa Museum); more will be opening soon in other parts of the country! Mary Webb (Retail Manager) has sourced many new products, with particular emphasis on BirdLife Boswana branded items.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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