Turn your property into a birding destination…
The occasion was a meeting of the Lakes Bird Club here in Sedgefield, and, not to put too fine a point on it, Dale lowered the average age in the room by about 80 years.
And being the grumpy old git that I am (I’m in the demographic that raises the average age in a room), there were two things that I wanted to know: can tourism help BirdLife South Africa? And how is the organisation using social media to get younger people interested in conservation.
Dale’s presentation covered the organisation’s goal (to preserve our country’s 844 bird species), and its focus: saving threatened & endemic species; protecting sites (particularly Important Bird Areas – IBAs); conserving habitats like the fynbos and Karoo biomes; and working with people (through bird clubs and cooperation with citizen scientists).
He said that South Africa’s 124 IBAs – which are identified using standardised, science-based criteria – cover about 14 million hectares, but that less than 40% of that total is protected.
And he also said that bird clubs are important ambassadors for conservation because (among other things) their members help with assessment of IBAs; monitoring sites; commenting on applications for development; and through their donations to specific projects. And, too, by becoming citizen scientists with the ADU – (Animal Demography Unit) and members of BirdLife South Africa.
In an interview after his talk, Dale said that the link between tourism and conservation can be quite clear. Birding routes, for example (and there’s a move to develop one for the Southern Cape) can bring more visitors to an area – which injects more money into local conservation – while the concept of citizen scientists can help with the collection of data.
“When you go on holiday, you complete an atlas card, and then input that data and so make your contribution.”
So would it help if individual lodges, for instance, were to submit their guests’ bird lists?
“Ja, definitely. The lodges might have managers – like one of the local lodges called ‘Reflections’ – who could almost vet the list. So maybe a UK birder might get the familiar chat and the sickle-wing chat confused, and the manager could make sure that it’s the right species” that’s recorded.
Properties, he said, could also establish projects like ‘My Bird Patch’ through the Animal Demography Unit and, for example, record the species that visit, and track how populations change over time.
And how is BirdLife South Africa getting involved in social media?
Ah! For answers to that one, you’ll have to use the social media. Like YouTube or This Tourism Week where you can see my interview with Dale, and like, favourite, and comment on it.