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iziKhwenene Project Wins Biodiversity Stewardship Award

We are very proud to announce that the iziKhwenene Project won the “Biodiversity Stewardship” category at the Mail & Guardian “Green The Future” Awards last week! For over a decade, the Mail & Guardian’s annual flagship, the “Greening The Future” Awards, has celebrated the achievements of South Africans in sustaining a healthy environment for all. In 2014, the awards embraced technological innovations and forward-thinking green technologies that help combat climate change, encourage renewable energy and foster the strategic management of natural resources. Please watch this short 1 minute video about our innovative community-based conservation project from the award ceremony! Link: http://youtu.be/oQHiPaWrt-I

Please consider a small donation to the Cape Parrot Project via Wild Bird Trust and help us save Africa’s most endangered parrot: http://www.wildbirdtrust.com/donations/

Cape parrot (Rodnick Biljon)

The primary objective of the Cape Parrot Project is to mitigate all current extinction threats to the Endangered Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus) using community-based conservation action guided by high-quality empirical research. The project was launched in September 2009 and has grown considerably over the last 5 years. There are currently six scientific publications either in preparation or in review. The findings include an outbreak of Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD) virus in the wild population linked to a food resource bottleneck between January and March each year, nomadic movement in search of suitable food resources during drought periods, medicinal value of Afrocarpus fruits in boosting immunity to fight endemic virus, and the application of vocalization playbacks as a conservation tool.

Please join the Cape parrot Project group on Facebook to stay up-to-date on developments and the latest photographs from the wild!

Cape parrot (Rodnick Biljon)

In 2011, we established the iziKhwenene Project (“iziKhwenene” means “Cape Parrots” in isiXhosa) to undertake the necessary community-based conservation action that will stimulate positive change for Cape Parrots and other forest endemics (e.g. Hogsback Frog and Samango Monkey). By September 2013 we had completed Phase 1 with the planting of just under 29,810 indigenous trees, erection of 258 nest boxes, and establishment of 35 micro-nurseries. Phase 2 aims to plant 500,000 indigenous trees, erect 1,000 nest boxes along the Amathole Mountain Range, establish 6 new forest reserves, and plant 25 Cape Parrot forest plots with local communities by 2023. By 2020, we aim to achieve sustained increase in the local Cape Parrot population.

Cape parrot (Rodnick Biljon)

An exciting new initiative… Between October and December this year we will be pioneering a new conservation tool using vocalization playbacks (from the Cape Parrot Sanctuary) that will manipulate the local movements of large flocks of Cape Parrots to maximise their access to natural food resources at suitable feeding sites. We aim to help the parrots utilize depleted Afromontane forest patches that small local populations are unable to effectively investigate for potential feeding sites.

Cape parrot (Rodnick Biljon)

The Cape Parrot Project supports better land management by teaching local communities how to grow, care for, and plant indigenous trees in and around Afromontane forest patches between Hogsback and Stutterheim. We are increasing local capacity through our partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and ongoing work with forest workers, senior scientists, managers, students, interns and volunteers. In 2012, we established the iZingcuka Forest Research Station in partnership with DAFF to act as a base for biodiversity research and forest restoration work in Amathole Mountains.

Cape parrot (Rodnick Biljon)

All aspects of our work support biodiversity conservation by restoring habitat for Cape Parrots and other forest endemics (e.g. Hogsback Frog, Knysna Turaco and Narina Trogon). We work with DAFF staff on a daily basis to better manage planting sites and existing forest patches. The project team works closely with DAFF Scientific Services on all research, as well as the internship program. DAFF has undertaken to support us in the establishment of six new forest reserves, thus increasing the total protected area between Hogsback and Stutterheim from 1.4% to 23%. We are also discussing the establishment of more forest stations and operations nodes for the project down the mountain range. No action is taken in the Cape Parrot Project unless supported by high-quality research data in the process of being published.

Cape parrot (Rodnick Biljon)

2013 was a good year for the Cape Parrot Project with significant declines in the beak and feather disease infection rates, successful breeding attempts, and several new village partnerships. Our partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has blossomed into a joint effort to establish a series of new forest reserves and rejuvenate the Amathole Trail, a 100 kilometre, 6-day hike that takes the hiker across six peaks and through much of the remaining Afromontane forest patches. We consider the Cape Parrot Project and iziKhwenene Project as multi-generational applied research and conservation projects that will take 50-100 years to achieve our ultimate goal of sustained population growth for Cape parrots in the region. The spin-offs for local people, wildlife, forests, rivers and wetlands are significant.

Cape parrot (Rodnick Biljon)

Snapshots of progress to date…

  • iziKhwenene Project has planted 15,820 Afrocarpus falcatus, 2,700 Podocarpus latifolius 6,235 Harpehylum caffrum, 5,140 Olea europea africana, 485 Celtis africana, 460 Vepris spp., and 570 Calodendrum capense trees (Total = 29,810 indigenous trees planted).
  • 23 active micro-nurseries are stocked with 6,000 yellowwood seedlings that will be ready for planting in February 2015.
  • 36,000 yellowwood seedlings are growing in community-run nurseries within the Cape Parrot distributional range.

Cape parrot (Rodnick Biljon)

  • Forest Custodians Program established four fenced-off indigenous tree orchards of 500-1,000 trees each in partnership with Hala, Sompondo, Gilton, and Zingcuka.
  • We have planted 1076 indigenous trees on the University of Fort Hare (Alice) grounds as part of our “Green Campus Initiative”.
  • We have erected 258 wooden nest boxes along the Amathole Mountain range and have now had four occupations.

Cape parrot (Rodnick Biljon)

  • Some 221 Afrocarpus/Podocarpus yellowwoods, 253 Celtis africana, 174 Olea europea africana and 325 Harpephylum caffrum planted in “Cape Parrot Sanctuary”.
  • Project benefits over 360 local community members with up to 40 community members employed in the planting, seed-collecting, fencing or clearing teams between November and March each year.
  • Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD) outbreaks have declined from 100% to under 20%.

Cape parrot (Rodnick Biljon)

  • First breeding successes in three years were recorded in November 2013.
  •  Population assessments demonstrate that the local population is breeding successfully and juvenile mortality declining.
  • We are undertaking the most comprehensive forest inventory of the Amathole Mountain Range.

Cape parrot (Rodnick Biljon)

  • iZingcuka Research Station (under long lease from DAFF) has now hosted 92 volunteers, interns, students and staff members.
  • Local government now recognize illegal logging of Afrocarpus and Podocarpus trees as a significant problem that needs to be addressed.
  • Technical reports on the legal Afrocarpus and Podocarpus harvesting quotas have been re-evaluated and a zero harvesting quota suggested.
  • High-level meetings with DAFF officials from Pretoria about the establishment of six new forest reserves covering over 10,000 hectares.

We thank the Roland and Dawn Arnall Foundation and Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology for their ongoing support of the Cape Parrot Project. All of this would be impossible without the support of our project partners and the National Geographic Society!

M&G Greening the Future - Biodiversity Stewardship - Winner!
M&G Greening the Future – Biodiversity Stewardship – Winner!

Please consider a small donation to the Cape Parrot Project via Wild Bird Trust and help us save Africa’s most endangered parrot: http://www.wildbirdtrust.com/donations/

Comments

  1. Manju Das
    India
    July 8, 6:20 am

    Thanks for winning the prestigious award on Biodiversity. Very good work for the future conservationist.

  2. Ona Lynne Nass
    East London
    July 5, 10:16 am

    Congratulations. Richly deserved.