Orange-breasted waxbill decline in South Africa has become a major concern

27 Nov
Orange-breasted waxbill cockbird. Photo Q.P.J

Orange-breasted waxbill cockbird. Photo Q.P.J

BirdLife South Africa has informed the Rare Finch Conservation Group that recent unexpected declines in the Orange-breasted waxbill ( Amandava subflava ) has become a major concern.  The species, which is one of the smallest waxbills in the country, is a wetland and moist grassland species and it has become extremely scarce in certain parts of its natural habitat. It is suspected that the decrease in numbers may have been as a result of overgrazing and possibly incorrect burning practices in many parts of the country. But the truth is, at this stage, no one really knows and a lot more research is required.

Example of the Orange-breasted waxbill's natural habitat. Photo Eelco Meyjes

Example of the Orange-breasted waxbill’s natural habitat. Photo Eelco Meyjes

The next question you may ask is how does BirdLife South Africa know about this decline ?  It’s very simple. They have no less than 8000 members and  more than 1000 of their members partake in one of the biggest citizen science undertakings in the country, namely the  South African Bird Atlas Project 2 (SABAP 2). In essence many birders have evolved their wonderful hobby from not only looking at birds and sometimes photographing them, but they now also actively contribute to nature conservation by partaking in atlassing work. And some have even progressed to become  qualified ringers ( or bird banders as they are sometimes called in some countries ). The concept of SABAP 1 was launched way back in 1987 and it ran until 1991. It was a way to gather mass documentation on bird distribution in South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland and later it also included Namibia. Now with SABAP 2, which was launched in 2007 and is ongoing, using the aid of modern technology eg. mobiles, internet, gps etc. atlassing has become a lot easier and fun to do for birders. And most importantly the data base has grown substantially and is very current and reliable.

The project is managed by the Animal Demography Unit at the University of Cape Town, and forms part of a very successful partnership with the South African National Biodiversity Institute ( SANBI ) and BirdLife South Africa.

For more information on SABAP 2 visit sabap2.adu.org.za/

 The Rare Finch Conservation Group is registered in South Africa as a non-profit organisation and is totally dependent on donors and sponsors to carry out its conservation work on finches in the wild. For more info visit http://www.rarefinch.org or write to the secretary at editor@avitalk.co.za

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SEE – CONSERVE – ENJOY

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