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New Waxi the Hero puppet show launched to help raise awareness for Africa’s smallest finch

7 Dec
Waxi the Hero and Fluffy, the White-winged flufftail, take a curtain call at their first full house ( 65 kids and parents ) performance Photo Eelco Meyjes

Waxi the Hero and Fluffy, the White-winged flufftail South Africa’s rarest bird, take a curtain call at their first full house ( 65 kids and parents ) puppet show performance. The show was held at a little children’s theater at the back of a toy shop in Johannesburg. Photo Eelco Meyjes

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Photo : Left to Right.Dr. Hanneline Smit-Robinson from BirdLife South Africa, holding Fluffy the White winged Flufftail ( In real life this bird is Critically Endangered with only 50 left in South Africa and 250 left in the world.) Alastair Findlay, the master puppet maker, holding Wandi the dopey and very funny Wattled crane ( In real life the Wattled Crane is listed as Critically Endangered in South Africa ) Right Eelco Meyjes, from the Rare Finch Conservation Group, holding Waxi, Africa’s smallest finch. The little Orange-breasted Waxbill now needs conservation help.All the birds in the show are wetland birds and Waxi the Hero rallies them all together to help find Fluffy. The reward for finding Fluffy is chocolate eggs and in the end the children find Fluffy so they receive the chocolate eggs.

For 2017 our target is to raise R 300,000.Every donation no matter how big or small will be greatly appreciated.The money will be used to 1 ) Finance a MSc bursary student to take our research work to a level two stage 2 ) Raise awareness for the Orange-breasted Waxbill , Africa’s smallest finch, by using the Waxi the Hero puppet show concept.Successful pilot shows were recently completed in Johannesburg.

BirdLife South Africa has invited the Rare Finch Conservation Group to participate with the puppet show at the Flufftail Festival, which will be held at the Moponya Mall in Soweto, from 30 January to 6 February 2017. In addition to this negotiations are currently taking place, with a leading non-profit environmental facility, to run the shows on a daily basis as part of a schools environmental education program. This particular facility attracts 10,000 to 12,000 children a year.

Listen to the 702 radio podcast below that was recently broadcast on what we are doing to try and help raise this substantial amount of money.

https://soundcloud.com/primediabroadcasting/eelco-meyjes-will-attempt-to-do-an-unsupported-3600-km-solo-cycle-ride-from-cape-town-to-namibia ( If need be please copy and paste on google )

If you would like to support the important conservation work that the Rare Finch Conservation Group is doing then please use the very easy to use Givengain donation facility  https://www.givengain.com/cause/4593/campaigns/14722/

The small is BIG conservation project is a proud collaboration between BirdLife South Africa and the Rare Finch Conservation Group.

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

 For more info visit http://www.rarefinch.org or write to the secretary at editor@avitalk.co.za

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Great new sponsorship announcement

2 Mar
Dr. Hanneline Smit-Robinson from BirdLife South Africa and Eelco Meyjes from the RFCG seen next to the small is BIG FIAT 500

Dr. Hanneline Smit-Robinson from BirdLife South Africa and Eelco Meyjes from the RFCG seen next to the small is BIG FIAT 500

The Rare Finch Conservation Group is extremely proud to announce that Arnold Chatz Cars , from Hyde Park Johannesburg, have sponsored a FIAT 500 , the world’s most exciting small car, for the SAVE AFRICA’S SMALLEST FINCH, the orange-breasted Waxbill conservation project. This project is a proud collaboration with BirdLife South Africa. The small is BIG car will be used to help raise the public awareness of this important new conservation project primarily in the Sandton and Johannesburg areas.This exciting little small is BIG car will also be seen in the Cape Town and Kruger National Park areas in the next two weeks.

Why small is BIG ? Africa’s smallest finch is a small bird with a big responsibility that is destined to make it a BIG HERO.

Photo Chris Krog

Photo Chris Krog

Recent unexpected declines in the Orange-breasted Waxbill (Amandava subflava) has resulted in the urgent need for the species to be researched. Research has already commenced to find out why the bird has become so scarce in certain parts of its natural habitat. The species has now also been selected by BirdLife South Africa as a key sentinel (watchdog) bird for South African wetland bird species’ including eight threatened and 84 common bird species. The eight Red-listed species, ranging from Near Threatened to Critically Endangered, plus all 84 common species will all benefit from our research collaboration.

The 8 threatened species as listed in the updated 2015 Eskom Red Data book of Birds of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland are as follows :OBW news-12-2014f 8 THREATENED SPECIES

 

 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. All donations will be publicly acknowledged , unless otherwise requested, on the RFCG website. Donations can be made to the following account. Rare Finch Conservation Group, Nedbank. Account number 1933 198885 Branch : Sandown 193 305 South Africa ( For international donors please add ) SWIFT NEDSZAJJ.
For more info visit http://www.rarefinch.org or write to the secretary at editor@avitalk.co.za

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The classroom in honour of Benson is completed

31 May
The classroom in honour of Benson. Bigodi Uganda

Sarah Scott and Kirk Mason , two Michigan State University alumini, in front of the completed classroom in memory of Benson Bamutura. Uganda

Last year 31 January we posted a blog with the very sad news that Benson Bamutura, who was the field manager in Uganda for the Rare Finch Conservation Group’s first field study in 2009 /10, and was one of the very few people in the world to see the elusive and threatened Shelley’s crimsonwing finch,  sadly passed away on 26 January 2014. Benson left behind a young wife and three young children plus two foster children from his late sister.

The late Benson Bamutura

The late Benson Bamutura

On 25 June we posted a blog requesting that a fundraising initiative, started by Michigan State University to build a classroom in memory of this great bird man, be supported by our worldwide followers and supporters. An amount of 10,000 USD was needed for the project to go ahead. Well it wasn’t long before an amount of 10,630 USD was raised and construction could commence.

Last week the RFCG received the fantastic news, plus above supporting photograph, that the classroom had been completed and that his children will receive the benefit of a free education . The RFCG would like to SALUTE and congratulate the alumini from Michigan State University for spear heading the project. And thank all our followers and supporters who made a financial contribution to help this most incredible initiative become a reality.

Without Benson we would not have been able to complete our first field study in Uganda nor would we have been able to conduct our very first RFCG fund raising EcoTour

See a video clip on Benson and the Shelley’s crimsonwing finch : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ_Z5LWmyok

 

 

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A classroom for Benson’s community

25 Jun
The late Benson Bamutura. Photo Eelco Meyjes

The late Benson Bamutura. Photo Eelco Meyjes

Benson Bamutura, who was one of the very few people in the world to see the elusive Shelley’s crimsonwing finch,  sadly passed away 26 January 2014.

In memory of this great bird man it is planned to build a classroom in his home village in Uganda. Please read the link below. We would like to ask all our Rare Finch Conservation Group friends and supporters to consider making a donation, no matter how big or small, to this very worthwhile initiative by the Michigan State university in the US.

Without Benson we would not have been able to complete our first field study in Uganda on the threatened Shelley’s crimson-wing finch, nor would we have been able to conduct our very first RFCG fund raising EcoTour

 

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Frank Mabasa is a top bird guide in the famous Kruger National Park

10 Feb
Frank Mabasa ( center ) pointing out a variety of fire finch species that could be seen at Crooks corner near the Pafuri picnic spot in the Kruger National Park. Photo Eelco Meyjes

Frank Mabasa ( center ) pointing out a variety of fire finch species that could be seen at Crooks corner near the Pafuri picnic spot in the Kruger National Park. Photo Eelco Meyjes

Frank Mabasa has already identified more than 258 bird species in one of the wildest and remote parts of the Kruger National Park. With more than 17 years of  working as a guard and looking after the Pafuri picnic spot , which is in the most northern part of the KNP, and often referred to as the absolute mecca for birders and twitchers he is always willing to help guests find that very special species.

Frank Mabasa receives a RFCG cap, coffee mug and T shirt from Eelco Meyjes in appreciation for his valuable services as a bird guide

Frank Mabasa receives a RFCG cap, coffee mug and T shirt from Eelco Meyjes in appreciation for his valuable services as a bird guide. Photo Kevin Solomon

Frank already in his early years showed a very keen interest in birds and today is able to mimic many of their calls. In 2006 BirdLife South Africa recognised his talents and he successfully qualified as a bird guide. Guests on the recent RFCG EcoTour to the Kruger National Park had the opportunity to meet him and enjoy the benefits of his vast experience.

Some of the finches that can be seen in this very northern part of the park are the indigo finches, a variety of the fire finches, violet ears, pin tailed whydahs , common waxbills, melbas and the very seldom seen lemon-breasted canary.

Strong interest for doing a similar 23 day tour has already been indicated.( See the Kruger National Park, Botswana and the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe ) For those finch enthusiasts that may wish to participate on the next tour please contact either Russell Kingston at indruss@bigpond.com or Eelco Meyjes at editor@avitalk.co.za. All tour participants will be required to sign an indemnity form prior to departure. All profits are donated to the Rare Finch Conservation Group.

The Rare Finch Conservation Group is registered in South Africa as a non-profit organisation and is dependant 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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