Wednesday, 28 December 2016

461 | Orumbonde books kindly supports bird conservation


Mr. Wolfram Hartmann from Orumbonde Books

Antiquarian, historian and master bookworm, Wolfram Hartmann from Orumbonde Books situated next to the Arta & Crafts Centre in Windhoek, Namibia, recently discovered the joy of bird watching as a relaxing pastime for himself. In this regard he obtained a bird feeder from BirdsConTour to attract wild birds to his garden. In an effort to motivate other citizens to do the same, he kindly offered to display an All-in-one Bird Feeder from BirdsConTour in front of his book store.

All-in-one Bird Feeder from BirdsConTour 

If you too are a bird lover and are also interested in luring birds into your garden or supporting the existing garden birds, you can visit Orumbonde Books and have a look at the feeder. You can submit your orders at Wolfram.

462 | European Honey Buzzard in Namibia


Photos by Mrs. Birgit Leicher

Female barred European Honey Buzzard Wespenbussard / Pernis apivores

The private nature reserve of the Kempinski Estates, situated 20 km south of Windhoek (Namibia) in the Auas Mountains, currently hosts a palate for bird and animal lovers. Since around the beginning of December this year, residents regularly observe a raptor in the splendid nature surrounding their houses. When Mrs. Birgit Leicher reported this sighting and sent her photos to BirdsConTour, this bird of prey could be identified as a non-breeding Palearctic migrating European Honey Buzzard, which is classified as uncommon to rare in Africa. Mrs. Gudrun Middendorff from the Namibian Birdclub confirmed the photos as the European Honey Buzzard.
This species shows an interesting nutritional behavior. As the species name already testifies, they mainly feed on wasps, but also on other insects such as termites. Different hunting methods are used. They snatch wasp nests from trees or from under the house roofs. Insects are also caught in flight or on the ground. They even go so far that they dig up wasp nests from out of 40 cm depths from the ground with their powerful claws. They are protected against the dangerous insect stings thanks to thick head feathers and thick scales on their legs.
Because this species keeps the wasp populations in check, it is alwa a welcome guest.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

460 | The bird-friendly, sustainable Christmas tree in a pot


Every year, around 25 million pines are cut in Germany alone. Why not stop and take a sustainable Christmas tree in the pot?

In Germany about 15,000 hectares of conifers are bred. They have to grow ten years before they can be sold. The artificial manure, the transport and the disposal costs a lot of money, work and environmental pollution. It is easier and, above all, sustainable. 

A fir in the pot from the garden can be used as a Christmas tree every year. And after Christmas, such a plant in the garden provides nesting place for your garden birds.
In cold countries like Germany it is important to keep the tree not directly next to the heating over the Christmas season. At the latest after one week, the plant should return to the open. Then you will have up to 15 years of fun on your tree.
But whoever wants a tree in a pot of appropriate large size, he buys a tree of the desired size, and then plants it into the garden.

For warmer countries like Namibia it is recommended to buy for example a Dwarf bottlebrush (Callistemon citrinus/Zylinderputzer) at the nursery and plant it in a pot. With such a plant, you catch two flies at a stroke. In the garden the attractive red flowers attract and feed a variety of different bird species and at Christmas time you have a wonderful Christmas tree in your home.

Dwarf Bottlebrush Christmas tree in a pot

With such a Christmas tree you not only give your family but also your garden birds a blessed and sustainable Christmas.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

459 | Chinese predation - African penguins face a new threat


Dubious Chinese-owned companies want to capture Namibian penguins, dolphins, and killer whales for Asian aquarium and zoo trade.

African penguin / Photo by Dr. J. Kemper

Up till now the demand for animal parts, such as rhino horn, to be used in traditional Chinese medicine, spurred poaching in Namibia and too often this traffic lead to China. And as if this were not sad enough, there is now growing demand for especially live marine wildlife, to fill China's exploding theme park industry. Although the practice of capturing wild animals for captivity is viewed worldwide as illegal and in contravention of international conventions, China has currently 39 marine parks, from massive facilities to tiny tanks in shopping malls and another 14 are under construction. This leads to a worrying high demand for live cetacean species.
Since late September 2016, the Namibian Fisheries Ministry is considering a proposal by Welwitschia Aquatic and Wildlife Scientific Research (registered in Namibia but owned by a Chinese businessman) in partnership with Beijing Ruier Animal Breeding and Promoting Co. (Chinese company), requesting the capture and export of endangered 10 orcas (killer whales),  500 - 1000 Cape fur seals, 50 - 100 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, 50 - 100 common bottlenose dolphins, various sharks and 300 - 500 African penguins to China.
These companies have offered N$ 30 million for the deal, however, all these species are registered as protected species by the Namibia Marine Resources Act and several of these species, such as orcas and African penguins, are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), making it illegal for any entity to capture and export them.
The proposed "harvest" of many of the listed species, motivated by the false statement that Namibian waters are stocked with "abundant marine lives", could wipe out Namibia's populations of these animals, since for example fewer than 100 common bottlenose dolphins inhabit Namibian waters, but the Chinese list a request to capture up to 100 a year.
Even the African penguin (Spheniscus demersus), also known as the jackass penguin and the only penguin species that breeds in Africa, confined to Namibian and South African waters, is an endangered species.
The African penguin has experienced rapid population declines in the past. Roughly 4 million African penguins still existed in 1810. Exploitation for food, fuel to supply ship boilers and for fat reduced their numbers down to about 1.5 million in 1910. The rapid population decline of the penguin to some 50 000 between 1910 and 2010 is largely attributed to overexploitation of eggs, habitat loss of nesting sites through the extraction of guano deposits, oil spillage and competition with commercial fishing for food resources.

Oil covered penguin Photo by Dr. Kemper

Today the global population roams around 50 000 from which 5500 breeding pairs live in Namibian waters.
Given an annual rate of decline of about 2% per year, there is considerable concern about the long-term viability of African penguins in the wild.

Apparently this catastrophic collapse in numbers is not yet worrying enough, since already before any authorization for the capture request is granted, the new threat, the "Chinese predation", lurks in the form of the Russian whaling vessel, Ryazanovka, in Namibia's main harbor Walvisbay since August this year. This vessel is manned by a Chinese crew but even more disturbing is the fact that the Ryazanovka is known to have been involved in the controversial capture of orcas in the Sea of Okhotsk in eastern Russia some years ago.

What causes frustration and heavy criticism locally and globally is the fact that the Namibian Fisheries Ministry is dragging their heels on this issue instead of just not to consider this proposal, which in any case has a lack of scientific relevance.

Herewith BirdsConTour and its readers worldwide urge that in the interest of responsible resource management, Namibia's penguins and other affected wildlife and the country, the application be denied.
The grant of a permit for this request would have a devastating effect - not only for the captured animals but potentially for the Namibian marine ecosystem and for the Namibian tourism branch as well.

Friday, 9 December 2016

458 | Supporting children in need in Namibia

Conservation & Tourism

Family of Hope Care Center in Katutura

On Friday the 9th of December 2016 BirdsConTour delivered Christmas gifts to orphaned and vulnerable children and their caretakers to Family of Hope Services in Katutura, Namibia.

Such gifts go a long way in the world of children living in Katutura

The organization supports more than 450 children between the ages of 6 and 15. Often these children are orphaned or vulnerable as a result of their guardians having HIV or dying from AIDS.

In Namibia AIDS was first recorded in 1986 when four citizens were diagnosed HIV positive. HIV/AIDS in Namibia is a very serious public health issue and the prevalence of HIV in Namibia is among the highest in the world with over 21% of the adult population. Consequently, life expectancy has declined since 1991 from 61 years to 49 years in 2001, mainly spread through heterosexual sex. Although Namibia has made remarkable progress in organizing services to those in need, the number of people who need treatment continues to increase from 99 700 in 2010/11 to 158 000 by 2015/16. These figures include 12 600 children under the age of 15 who are in need of treatment.
Of greatest concern are the +- 45 000 AIDS orphans and vulnerable children aged 0 to 17.

Mrs. Foibe Silvanus (Program manager) and her class

FHS also helps school dropouts between the ages of 7 and 15 to equip them so that they get back into the government school system and complete their education and the organization offers after-school tutoring if they are struggling.

With the help of guests from all over the world, BirdsConTour supports children and their caretakers from the non-governmental organization Family of Hope Services.

All-in-one Bird Feeding Station

With this All-in-one Bird Feeding Station, generously sponsored by Mrs. Anja Sackczewski from Jebo Travel in Germany and built and filled up by BirdsConTour, wild birds will now be attracted to the garden of FHS. 

Mrs. Anja Sackczewski 

The children can now watch and learn the fascinating and colorful birds that live around them. Audio experts found that birdsong relaxes people because over thousands of years they have learnt when the birds sing they are safe, it's when birds stop singing that people need to worry.

With this All-in-one Bird Feeding Station Anja and BirdsConTour gave the children a lifetime ticket to the theater of nature.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

457 | All-in-one Bird Feeding Station


All-in-one Bird Feeding Station

BirdsConTour, your exclusive source for bird conservation and bird watching tourism, proudly announces the latest All-in-one Bird Feeding Station. Feed all your wild birds in one place with this All-in-one Bird Feeding Station made from wood. It comes complete with a water bowl, a seed tray, a fat snack case, a dust bowl, a fruit stick, a nectar tube and a nest material holder. Because an essential element of feeding wild birds is keeping the feeding station hygienically clean, all feeders are detachable for easy cleaning.

It is a perfect All-in-one bird feeding station for the avid bird watcher and is a great purchase for the bird wildlife conservationist.

To feed, or not to feed?

Many people really enjoy the contact they have with wild birds and regard them as friends. Often it is the only contact they have with wild animals and it helps them to feel more connected to nature.
Feeding birds year-round will bring them closer for you to marvel at their fascinating behaviour and wonderful colours. Feeding wild birds is also an ideal way to enthuse children about wildlife. It also compensates birds for the habitat which we humans rob with our way of life.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

456 | Fighting for vultures and the community - Victoria Falls SafariLodge


The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge witnesses a massive decline in vulture numbers across Zimbabwe.

Vulture restaurant

Guests from all over the world

To counteract this a vulture restaurant was established on the lodge property.

White-backed Vultures

Feeding frenzy

By now the daily vuture feeding at precisely 1 o'clock draws groups of guests from all over the world to experience and document the feeding frenzy at the vulture restaurant.

Marabou Stork

And if the vultures aren't enough of an experience, there are also the much sought after Marabous and Kites.

Information boards

Community support

Victoria Falls Safari Lodge not only promotes the survival of vultures around Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, both for their ecological value as health specialists and for the enjoyment of future generations, but also engage in community support, thus earning a three penguin-rated Welfare, Conservation and Tourism Support 2016 Award from BirdsConTour.

Moses G.

455 | Unique experience for wildlife enthusiasts and birdwatchers alike- Kubu Lodge


Situated on the banks of the world famous Chobe River in Botswana lies the Kubu Lodge, deriving its name from the Setswana word for 'hippo'.

Almost 1 kilometer of Chobe Riverfront

Informative Nature Walk

Yellow-billed Stork

African Fish-Eagle

Kubu Lodge has almost one kilometer of Chobe Riverfront with the goal to share this wild area with guests, while also helping to protect the Chobe's spectacular biodiversity like Bushbuck, Hippo, Crocodile and a variety of birds.

With offering up an old school building on the property free of charge for use by Kazungula Children's Ark Support Group the lodge supports the aim to establish a safe and loving environment for children (aged 2.5 years to 6 years) from Kazungula Village and surrounding areas.

Mrs. Susan Siziba, Assistant Manager

A three penguin-rated Welfare, Conservation and Tourism Support 2016 Award of thanks from BirdsConTour to Kubu Lodge for these awe-inspiring efforts.

454 | Ecotourism in the heart of KAZA TFCA - Nkasa Lupala


Located in the center of the newly established Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA), the world's largest conservation-oriented area and spanning five southern African countries (Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe), the Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge is situated 130 km west of Katima Mulilo in Namibia's Zambezi Region (Caprivi).

On arrival each guest receives an informative booklet with the aim to raise awareness

100% solar

Sustainable construction

JV with the Wuparo Conservancy

The lodge serves as an example of ecotourism (responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people) in Namibia as a whole by sustainable construction and management, by using 100% solar energy and by being a Joint Venture with the Wuparo Conservancy and its over 2 500 community members.

Simon with part of his team

These Eco-responsible practices brought Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge to be awarded in 2016 with a prestigious Welfare, Conservation and Tourism Support 2016 Award, gaining three out of three penguins from BirdsConTour.