Working for birds in Africa

Birds of the Orange River Estuary and surrounding area

Fri, 12/21/2012 - 12:42 -- abc_admin
M. D. Anderson, with illustrations by M. Newman, 2006. Bright Continent Guide 5. Kimberley: Department of Tourism, Environment and Conservation & Cape Town: Avian Demography Unit, University of Cape Town. 92 pp. ISBN 0- 620-25207-3. Available (SA Rand 52 + p & p) from Netbooks ([email protected]).
pages 113 - 114

This short booklet is the fifth in an increasingly popular series covering various parts of southern Africa. Robben Island (Cape Province), Maputo Special Reserve (Mozambique), Malolotja Nature Reserve (Swaziland) and Niassa Reserve (Mozambique) have been the subjects of previous booklets.

The Orange River estuary is situated on the border between South Africa and Namibia and constitutes 2,000 ha of wetland, largely surrounded by restricted-access diamond areas. However, access to the wetland is now easy from Alexander Bay. It is designated a Ramsar site because of its waterbird numbers (at times more than 20,000 of c.60 species) including some which are at least regionally rare and endangered. Total numbers have been declining (largely due to the decline of Cape Cormorant Phalacrocorax capensis and Common Tern Sterna hirundo), but some conservation efforts are now in place to rectify this. The area also attracts many vagrants, it being one of the few wetlands in the area.

There are c.30 pages detailing the site, its history as a bird site and its conservation, but the meat is the systematic list. This is as comprehensive as possible, detailing published (c.60 references in the list) and all unpublished records the author could locate. The list is also interspersed with attractive line drawings (c.1 per double-page spread).

Booklets such as this can only help to protect such sites and this one serves a very useful purpose in that regard. It is also essential for anyone visiting the area and the author welcomes records from visitors, especially breeding records.

Peter Lack

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