It’s quite a romantic story, really. Eelco Meyjes, a fellow of the RFCG, arrived to birdkeeping in 1996, after his then nine-year-old daughter asked for an aviary for her birthday. The beginning of most finch enthusiasts’ journeys in birdkeeping, Eelco began by collecting the run of the mill Zebra Finches. Soon it was the more handsome Gouldian Finches from Australia; soon it was a host of breeding aviaries; soon it was bird shows over the weekends…

Over time, Eelco brought his knowledge from a thriving career in South African advertising to his passion for birdkeeping. He has since used his skills to film and produce a series of documentaries profiling African bird species that are threatened with extinction.

Under the helpful and watchful eye of the RFCG, Eelco has recently released a documentary that shows it all: Searching for Shelley’s Amongst Africa’s Mountain Gorillas. The documentary features world-first footage of the intense fieldwork currently taking place in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP), Uganda. The documentary shows the devastating effects of uncontrolled deforestation in BINP and the challenges the RFCG is facing on a daily basis in finding the precious Shelley’s. Viewers are also shown first-hand how Benson, our RFCG fieldworker in Uganda, goes about setting up mist nets every day at dusk and dawn. It’s a documentary packed with insight and honest storytelling of a truly touching project.

Money raised from the sales of this documentary are reinvested in the fieldwork project. For more information about the DVD, please visit:

Although the Shelley’s Crimsonwing Finch is yet to be found, both in the wild and in captivity, the RFCG is continuing in its efforts to find the elusive bird. Director of the RFCG, Simon Espley, explains in the documentary, “Shelley’s is a Cites One bird, which means, according to the IUCN, there’s an imminent threat of extinction in the wild. So [the RFCG has] established a project in Uganda, which is in central Africa, in an area known as the Albertine Rift, which has a lot of endemic bird species, of which Shelley’s is one. It’s not quite as sexy as the mountain gorilla from a tourism point of view but that’s what turns us on. We like a challenge.”

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