BIRD OF THE YEAR 2013
BIRD OF THE YEAR 2013: WHITE-WINGED FLUFFTAIL
Bird of the Year 2013
Birds are important environmental indicators. By focusing on birds, and the sites and the habitats on which they depend, BirdLife South Africa aims to improve the quality of life for birds, for other wildlife and ultimately for people.
Each year a Bird of the Year is chosen by BirdLife South Africa and this is one of BirdLife South Africa’s annual initiatives for creating awareness about birds and bird habitat conservation. Educating people is one of the key components of BirdLife South Africa’s conservation work. The aim of the project is to choose a bird species and hold it in a special focus for the coming year and heighten a public interest towards the need for protecting the bird and its habitat.
The White-winged Flufftail
This poorly known species has a highly fragmented distribution, a small population and highly specific habitat requirements. The White-winged Flufftail is only known to occur in high altitude wetlands in South Africa and Ethiopia. It is severely threatened by habitat destruction and degradation, including wetland drainage, agriculture, water abstraction, overgrazing by livestock and cutting of marsh vegetation. It is listed as Critically Endangered in The Eskom Red Data Book of Birds of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland (Barnes 2000).
Despite a number of studies by conservationists in South Africa and Ethiopia, little is known about the White-winged Flufftail’s biology. It is important, for example, to understand this flufftail’s habitat requirements and obtain data on population size, distribution, movements, genetics, etc. There is also a pressing need to protect the wetlands which are used by this species.
Wetlands are one of the most threatened habitats in South Africa and water is one of South Africa’s scarcest resources. At present many water resources are polluted by industrial effluents, domestic and commercial sewage, acid mine drainage, agricultural runoff and litter.
We need to conserve the White-winged Flufftail, its threatened habitat and our scarcest non-renewable resource.
Ps. Make a note now in your diary: 25-26 May – Sasol Bird Fair, Johannesburg Zoo