Japan's princess Takamado recently visited several important bird sites in South Africa. The princess has been the honorary president of BirdLife International since 2004.
Her first stop was at the Marievale Bird Sanctuary and Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve. She was accompanied by Mark Anderson, executive director and Peter Sullivan, chairman of BirdLife South Africa.
Marievale, an international Ramsar site and an Important Bird Area, is threatened by polluted mine water which is being discharged into the Blesbokspruit from the Aurora Mine.
In his presentation during the visit, Stan Madden, who has since 1948 been actively involved in the monitoring of waterbirds at Marievale and has campaigned for its conservation, highlighted the severe threats to Marievale which have resulted in this wetland being mlisted on the Montreaux Record (a list of Ramsar sites which have undergone a serious deterioration in ecological character).
At Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve, also an Important Bird Area, princess Takamado joined Dr Craig Whittington-Jones and his team who were conducting an African Grass-owl survey.