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Benson Bamutura successfully completes birdguide course in Kampala,Uganda

30 May

Benson Bamutura, RFCG field manager

The Rare Finch Conservation Group recently sponsored Benson Bamutura, who successfully managed the Phase 2 field research work at the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in 2009 /10 for the RFCG, to attend a specialist Bird Guide course in Kampala. We are extremely proud to announce that Benson is now qualified to work as a bird guide on international birding safaris to Uganda .

The RFCG  is currently trying to raise funds to finance its planned Phase 3 field research work in Uganda .  In the meantime Benson can now work as an official bird guide, within the tourist industry, to help make ends meet for him and his young family. The RFCG strongly believes in helping to improve the quality and lives of the people that it works with in Uganda.  And we certainly look forward to the day where Benson can once again be contracted as our field manager to head up our Phase 3 field research work, to try and find the elusive Shelley’s crimsonwing finch .

If you would like to make a donation, no matter how big or small, to this very worthwhile conservation project then simply click onto the PayPal button below. All donations will be acknowledged in writing . The RFCG is registered as a non-profit organisation and is totally dependent on sponsors and donors for its current and future success. For more information on the RFCG please contact Eelco Meyjes at editor@avitalk.co.za

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Teaching young children all about the need for gorilla conservation is critical

16 Mar

Young children play acting out a gorilla dance for ecotourists on the edge of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda . Photo courtesy Cheryl Mares

The International Gorilla Conservation Programme realised at a very early stage that if it was to achieve success with saving the threatened Mountain Gorillas of Africa, it would need to teach the young children that live along the edge of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest all about the long term benefits and importance of these very special apes .

Visual courtesy Cheryl Mares

Children from a young age are encouraged to part take in all sorts of cultural activities related to the Mountain Gorilla . In the most recent population census as reflected in 10 Jan blog post we see that the species has tripled in numbers and that all indications suggest that the conservation work has been a great success .

It is the express vision of the Rare Finch Conservation Group to help teach the very same young children in the area all about the rarity of the threatened Shelley’s crimsonwing finch, and to one day attract finch enthusiasts from all over the world to visit this incredible destination in Africa .

A young mountain gorilla . Visual courtesy Cheryl Mares

If you would like to support the RFCG with its pioneering conservation work then please contact Eelco Meyjes for more information at editor@avitalk .co.za

RFCG directors visit Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

14 Mar

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Photo: Eelco Meyjes 

The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, in the south western part of Uganda, is home to no less than 43 finch species . It is also home to the now famous Shelley’s crimsonwing finch which the Rare Finch Conservation Group ( RFCG ) is trying to find

Russell Kingston OAM and Prof. Ernst Kruger

RFCG directors Russell Kingston OAM from Australia and Prof. Ernst Kruger from South Africa, have gone to visit the magnificent tropical rain forest for 9 days in order to gain first hand knowledge and experience of the challenges involved in trying to find the threatened Shelly’s crimsonwing . Russell and Ernst will be staying at the Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation ( ITFC ) who are the valued on the ground partners to the RFCG with this pioneering conservation project

Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation in Ruhija. Photo Eelco Meyjes 

The ITFC in Ruhija, is situated on the edge of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and is part of the Mbabara University of Science and Technology www.itfc.org . The RFCG recently completed Phase 2 of its field research work and is currently raising funds to support a Phase 3 initiative . Phase 3 will consist of doing a further 4 months work at Bwindi before going onto the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park for 4 months and then doing a final 4 months at the Rwenzori Mountain National Park in the north western part of Uganda . All the national parks mentioned are high altitude parks where the threatened crimsonwing finch has porportedly been seen

Rwenzori Mountain National Park, sometimes known as the Mountains of the Moon in Uganda

The RFCG is registered as a non-profit organisation and is totally dependant on donors and sponsors for its existence and future survival . If you would like to find out more about this pioneering conservation group then please contact the operations director Eelco Meyjes at editor@avitalk.co.za

It’s sad, but true …. and where are we now five years later?

3 Mar

A pair of Shelley's crimsonwing skins . Photo taken by Lorainne Ralph . Skins courtesy Durban Museum South Africa

According to Birdlife International’s IUCN Red Data List the Shelley’s crimsonwing finch is classified as Vulnerable . It is estimated that there are between 2,500 and 10,000 of these finches left in the world . The Shelley’s crimsonwing finch inhabits the dense highland rain forests of the Albertine Rift in central Africa . Birdlife Internationals conservation Target : Investigate declines or fluctuations in population, to assess threats. Survey extent of habitat

It is difficult to believe that the above photograph taken 5 years ago by Lorainne Ralph, skins courtesy of the Durban Museum in South Africa, is still to this day the only known photograph in the world of a pair of Shelley’s Crimsonwing finches . Today we now also have two known photographs of two seperate cock birds ( See 30 Jan Blog post )

Shelley's crimsonwing skin - hen bird

The photograph on the left , also taken by Lorainne Ralph and skin courtesy of the Durban Museum in South Africa, is currently the world’s only known photographic reference of a Shelley’s crimsonwing hen bird.

The Rare Finch Conservation Group ( RFCG ) has already spent hundreds upon hundreds of hours in the field searching for what has now become one of Africa’s rarest finches . It is the firm belief of the RFCG that this particular finch, is in dire straights and that it needs urgent attention . Often the loss of a certain keystone bird species serves as an early indicator to more dramatic and pressing conservation issues in a particular area.

IS THE RARITY OF THIS BIRD NOW TELLING US SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT AND WHY HAS IT BECOME SO RARE ?

Eric, manager at Asyuant lodge, Ruhija. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. SW Uganda. Visual courtesy : Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation

RFCG educational posters have been put up in many of the areas where the Shelley’s crimsonwing has porportedly been seen in the past, but sadly very few confirmed sightings of the bird have so far been reported. The good news however is that a sighting of a pair of Shelley’s crimsonwing finches was reported in August 2010 in the Ruhija area in SW Uganda ( See 23 Nov 2010 Blog )

If you would like to support the RFCG with its pioneering conservation work then please contact editor@avitalk.co.za . The Rare Finch Conservation Group is registered as a non-profit organisation and is totally dependant on sponsorships and donations for its future survival

Vision becomes reality

23 Feb

The above videoclip produced by the African Wildlife Foundation is an outstanding example of demonstrating how gorilla conservation organisations, working with local communities, have successfully helped to save the threatened mountain gorillas from extinction ( See 10 Jan Blog post ).

It is the vision of the Rare Finch Conservation Group  ( RFCG ) to help raise the awareness levels, both amongst local and international communities, of the rarity of the threatened Shelley’s crimsonwing finch. This elusive finch is currently classified by Birdlife International in the IUCN Red Data list as vunerable, but lack of data prohibits a more accurate classification .

Field research already conducted by the RFCG suggests that this finch is in dire straights and needs urgent attention. This particular finch is purportedly found in the same area as the threatened mountain gorillas in Africa. For more information about the RFCG please contact editor@avitalk.co.za . The RFCG is registered as a non profit organisation and is totally reliant on donations and sponsorships for its future survival

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