Conservation Snippets

Meteorologists forecast below normal rainfall for region

Current Sea Surface Temperatures over the Central Equatorial Pacific Ocean are slowly dropping, indicating that we are moving from a weak El Niño towards neutral conditions, meteorologist Lucky Ntsangwane with the South African Weather Service said on March 15 in Bloemfonetin. He believes there is a 65 percent probability that the current weak El Niño conditions in will prevail through at least April 2005.

There is a very small chance that La Niña will occur. Above-normal temperatures are forecast for the northern parts of southern Africa and near-normal to above-normal temperatures are most likely to occur for the southern parts. Ntsangwane said large probability for below-normal rainfall conditions for the northern parts of southern Africa are forecast. The eastern Cape is the most likely province to experience above-normal rainfall.

New wings for raptor group

The oldest working group in the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), the Vulture Study Group, has grown new wings and is taking off after its merger with the Raptor Conservation Group. Now known as the Birds of Prey Working Group, work will focus on vultures, raptors and owls. There are 84 bird of prey species found in southern Africa, almost a third of which are facing extinction. It is thought that the Egyptian vulture is regionally extinction as a breeding species.

The EWT and its partners have been conserving birds of prey for the last 32 years, but the study group says, "These birds are facing ever-increasing threats due to the loss of suitable habitat and other pressures mostly caused by human activities." The launch took place at the Magaliesberg Conference Centre on March 17, 2005.

Prior to the launch the working group held a workshop covering aspects of ringing birds of prey. It also held its annual general meeting where reports on the group's various projects were presented to the members. There are currently 24 ongoing projects that fall under the Birds of Prey Working Group, one of which has been running for more than 16 years.

They usually have community-based aspects and often focus on farming communities. The projects are funded through donor organisations such as Sasol, SA Eagle, Nashua, Khumba Resources, Philagro and others.

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