Tuesday, December 29, 2009

African Emerald Cuckoo seen in Maun

Over the Christmas period, Richard Randall was fortunate to see an adult male African Emerald Cuckoo at Sexaxa near Maun. This beautiful cuckoo is a forest species and is seldom, if ever, seen in the Okavango. It 'normal' distribution in Botswana is along the Chobe River in the northern part of the country. Like most cuckoos, this species is shy and not easily seen; however its distinctive 'pretty Geor-gie' call is a give-away. The African Emerald Cuckoo parasitises the camaropteras.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Biannual African Waterbird Census

Photo: Thuto Moutloatse

The January waterbird counts are looming fast, and this is a reminder to all participants to get ready to undertake their counts at their favourite waterbody or stretch of river/waterway. New participants are always welcome; as with Common Bird Monitoring (see previous post) a small individual commitment twice a year adds up to a significant amount of data when information from a large number of counters is pooled. Some of the transects have been conducted twice annually for close on 20 years now, and represent a valuable dataset.

If you would like to find out more, with a view to participating, contact Stephanie Tyler at steph_tyler2001@hotmail.com

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Common Bird Monitoring gains momentum

The European Roller is one of the migratory species being monitored (Photo: P Hancock)
BirdLife Botswana’s Common Bird Monitoring (CBM) project aims to establish trends in the numbers of birds in Botswana, even those which are not globally or nationally threatened, to provide an indication of the status of biodiversity in the country. It is anticipated that the information gathered will be useful for the Convention on Biological Diversity as well as within the country where it will inform conservation priorities in terms of species and issues.

The monitoring is conducted during February and November every year, and the November session has just been completed. Transects were conducted mainly throughout the Chobe, Ngamiland and Ghanzi Districts with lower coverage of other areas, and our sincere thanks go to all who participated. The good returns from the northern part of the country are largely due to the CBM co-ordinators within the Department of Wildlife and National Parks: Mothusi Jenamiso, assisted by BirdLife Botswana member Pete Laver, in Kasane; Zee Mpofu in Maun; and Lucas Matthys and Gloria Ndobano in Ghanzi.

The project only really started in February of this year, and since then the number of participants has increased markedly. However, it is too early for any trends to be determined; these will only become apparent after several years. Consequently we urge participants to prepare themselves for the February 2010 monitoring period. New participants are always welcome, to increase the national coverage. The counts are fun, and only take a morning twice a year. If you are interested in contributing, contact one of the co-ordinators mentioned above, or Justin Soopu at the BirdLife Botswana office in Gaborone (3190541) or Pete Hancock at the BirdLife Botswana office in Maun (6865618/74654464). We especially need more transects done in Central and Kgalagadi Districts.

Special thanks to the following for assistance with the November counts: Danae Sheehan (RSPB), Rumbidzai Kaparadza, Mothusi Jenamiso, Baldwin Mashaba, Thatayaone Rabakane, Kabo Kgopa, Cruise Mollowakgatla, Cedric Somotanzi, Martin Kays, Johnny Mowanji, Kambango Sinimbo, Kevin Grant, Lorraine Boast, Birthe Gjern, TJ Lesifi, Eugenie and Mark Skelton, Zee Mpofu, Gloria Ndobano, Pete Laver, Mike Soroczynski, Nicky Bousfield, Harold Hester, and Oreemetse Dingake. (Photos: D Sheehan)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Capacity-building for communities: Mosu workshop

BirdLife Botswana and the Dept. of Wildlife and National Parks are conducting a series of capacity-building workshops for the communities of Mmeya, Mosu and Mmatshumo in the southern part of Sua Pan, to empower them to conserve the natural resources of the area (in particular, the second largest breeding site of the Lesser Flamingo in Africa) and to improve their livelihoods through tourism in the Makgadikgadi. The first workshop was held in Mmatshumo Village during October this year, and explored ways of bringing the three villages together to achieve a common vision for their area. This was followed last week by a second workshop in Mosu Village, where community members developed a Strategic Plan to guide their activities. The third workshop will be held in Mmeya Village early in the new year.The first workshop was held at the Gaing-O Trust offices in Mmatshumo
Back to school in Mosu! The second workshop was held at Mosu primary school
The community workshops are part of the UNDP-GEF funded project “Strategic Partnerships to Improve the Operational and Financial Sustainability of Protected Areas”. The project aims to promote stakeholder engagement in biodiversity conservation in the Makgadikgadi area, and is a sister project to the Makgadikgadi Integrated Management Plan currently underway.