Dr Derek Engelbrecht of the University of Limpopo is in the process of compiling an atlas of where the ‘big six' rare birds have been seen and are known to breed in the Limpopo Province, and is hoping for help from members of the public. The big six birds are all readily recognised and include the lappet faced vulture, martial eagle, saddle billed stork, kori bustard, ground hornbill and Pel's fishing owl.
Of these, the most elusive is Pel's fishing owl, being a nocturnal bird that occurs mostly along large watercourses. Data is available regarding where these birds are found in the Kruger National Park (KNP), and Derek is liasing with park staff to help fill out distribution records in that section of the province.
However, he comments, "There is not a single known nest site of the lappet faced vulture outside of Kruger in the Limpopo Province." Derek's interest in the project was initially sparked when he did research on ground hornbills in the Musina region. He became concerned about the distribution of the other big six birds in the province and began compiling an atlas.
The data will be presented at an international conference later this year, and will also be included in the Avian Demography Unit's database in Cape Town. Derek says that he would welcome information from members of the public who have seen any of these bird species in the Limpopo Province, especially outside of Kruger.
He is interested in bird sightings and known nests. He does not need an incredibly precise location of the sighting, although GPS coordinates would be appreciated. If you have seen any of the big six, please call him on 082 200 5277 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.