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Owl: Pel's Fishing

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa

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bishop3006
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Re: KNP Pel's fishing owl survey

Unread postby bishop3006 » Fri Jun 19, 2009 1:03 pm

Mosij, that would be marvellous!
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Re: KNP Pel's fishing owl survey

Unread postby Bush Baptist » Fri Jun 19, 2009 1:19 pm

Please keep us abreast of events Bish. It would be nice to get the results.

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Re: KNP Pel's fishing owl survey

Unread postby salamanda » Fri Jun 19, 2009 2:02 pm

Thanks Bishop, it sounds very interesting and would love to read any updates. I once saw a Pels plus young on the Olifants from the camp lookout. Have never managed to see another.

Mosij hope you get permission to reproduce the proposal.

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Re: KNP Pel's fishing owl survey

Unread postby mosij » Mon Jun 22, 2009 8:30 am

Hi - with kind permission from Andre here's the proposal he submitted to Wits Bird Club;

THE PEL’S FISHING OWL Scotopelia peli POPULATION SURVEY IN SOUTH AFRICA 2009

Image

Pel’s Fishing Owl Scotopelia peli
(Photo: André Botha)


Compiled by: André Botha
Birds of Prey Working Group
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Private Bag X11, Parkview, 2122
Tel: (011) 486-1102
Cell: 082 962 5725
E-mail: andreb@ewt.org.za



Introduction

The Pel’s Fishing Owl (Scotopelia peli) is listed as “vulnerable” (Barnes, 2000) and the South African population is considered to be less than 60 breeding pairs. More than half of this population is believed to occur within the Kruger National Park along the Limpopo-, Luvhuvhu-, Sabie- and Olifants rivers. Additional pairs have also been recorded further west along the Limpopo-, Olifants- and Blyde rivers, outside the Kruger National Park.

Threats to this species include the reduction of water flow in the rivers along which it occurs due to commercial forestation and the damming and extraction of water from such systems for agricultural, mining and other purposes. Increased silt and salt loads in river systems and the destruction of riverine woodland also conflicts with the habitat requirements of this species, currently restricting its distribution to areas where such habitats are properly conserved.

Due to the inconspicuous habits of this species, a decline in its population could go unnoticed. It is therefore important to do regular surveys of this species’ range in South Africa to establish long-term population trends and implement appropriate strategies to address aspects that could threaten this species within its current range in South Africa. The Birds of Prey Working Group of the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT-BoPWG) aims to address this need by implementing an annual survey of this species range within South Africa working with Project partners such as SAN-Parks (within the Kruger National Park), KZN Wildlife, land-owners and other NGO’s. Some funding to conduct the surveys within the Kruger National Park has been obtained from the West Rand Honorary Rangers Corps and is sufficient to cover costs for the first year of surveys along at least 2 rivers in the KNP. Further funding is however required to implement the second phase of the Project, namely to expand the survey to all relevant rivers in the Kruger National Park as well as to river systems beyond its borders.

The Project will initially run for a period of three years, but such monitoring should ideally be undertaken annually to determine long-term trends over time. Previous surveys conducted in the Kruger Park indicate that the period May-July is the optimal time of year for such surveys to be undertaken as it coincides with the birds’ breeding cycle in the region and birds are less likely to move out of their territories at this time.

Apart from volunteers sourced by the EWT-BoPWG as participants, there has already been considerable interest, participation and support from the Conservation staff of SAN-Parks to date. This includes making the Bantam aircraft available for aerial surveys of the relevant rivers to identify suitable habitat for this species. The assistance and participation of relevant ranger staff from the Kruger National Park will be needed to conduct ground surveys along the river systems where these birds are known to occur.


The Birds of Prey Working Group

The Endangered Wildlife Trust‘s Birds of Prey Working Group (EWT-BoPWG) is one of the largest EWT Working Groups and focuses on the conservation of diurnal and nocturnal raptors, vultures, and their habitats. A strong scientific component adds authority to the dedicated efforts of our large network of field coordinators. The Group currently manages 28 Projects across southern Africa focused on a range of species and areas. Methodologies are shared, ideas communicated and solutions reached through a collaborative effort that combines science with practical efficiency in order to not only identify problem areas in the conservation of raptors and vultures, but to also reach informed conclusions and act decisively in order to timeously address conservation threats.

Our Mission
To action, support and coordinate conservation projects for nocturnal and diurnal raptors and vultures in southern Africa and to achieve measurable results through considered and informed implementation strategies.

Our Objectives

• To combine the efforts of all individuals and organisations interested in or associated with raptor and vulture conservation in southern Africa in order to strengthen conservation efforts.
• To identify gaps in the conservation of birds of prey and their habitats, and to implement relevant projects in order to fill these gaps.
• To set achievable and measurable goals for each project undertaken, and to manage the achievement of these goals, keeping in mind the bigger conservation picture.


Results of recent surveys

Ground surveys were conducted of a section of the Luvhuvhu-river and the entire length of the Olifants-river during May and June 2007 and 2008 respectively. Results seem to indicate that the Pel’s Fishing Owl population along the Luvhuvhu seems to have remained fairly stable over the last 15 years while an estimated decline of 30-40% in the population of this species along the Olifants was found for the same period. Similar trends were recorded for several other species of fish-eating birds.

The outcome of the Olifants-survey in particular seems to indicate that there are a range of factors that impact on the water quality and quantity of the large river systems in the Kruger National Park that need to be addressed to ensure the continued occurrence of species such as Pel’s Fishing Owl.

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salamanda
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Re: KNP Pel's fishing owl survey

Unread postby salamanda » Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:32 am

Thanks mosij - very interesting. I hope the proposal is accepted. Wonderful that the WR Hon Rangers were able to provide some funding. Hope there will be some updates on the progress.

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Re: KNP Pel's fishing owl survey

Unread postby bishop3006 » Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:57 am

Mosij,

Thanks for posting that! You didn't by any chance, as part of the authorisation to post that, get a website link or something where we can follow what they're doing? The survey, having started yesterday (Sunday) is already underway along the Olifants - I'll see what I can get in terms of follow-up.
Marius
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I believe that for man to survive, we must work with nature rather than against her. We need the land; the land doesn't need us. Too many people have lost sight of this fact. - Bruce Truter

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Re: KNP Pel's fishing owl survey

Unread postby mosij » Mon Jun 22, 2009 10:33 am

Hi,
Nope - couldn't find a website. I tried the EWT website, but I'm not a member and couldn't log in. The article was the most up to date info I could find. If anyone else comes up with a website maybe they could post a link

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bishop3006
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Re: KNP Pel's fishing owl survey

Unread postby bishop3006 » Mon Jun 22, 2009 1:03 pm

I also went through their website and couldn't find anything. Funny, one would think that something like this is high profile enough to be posted there somewhere amongst all their other stuff... :hmz:

Will take a look at the RSG website if I can find something there...
Marius
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I believe that for man to survive, we must work with nature rather than against her. We need the land; the land doesn't need us. Too many people have lost sight of this fact. - Bruce Truter

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Re: KNP Pel's fishing owl survey

Unread postby Imax » Tue Jul 07, 2009 7:57 am

Just heard feedback on the survey on the Olifants and on the 93Km of the river only 7 breeding pairs were counted. What is also concerning is that only to egrets (great white and little) were counted, where they are populous along the other rivers.

Not good news at all. Hopefully we can get some more information on the count as many other species were also counted.

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salamanda
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Re: KNP Pel's fishing owl survey

Unread postby salamanda » Tue Jul 07, 2009 10:29 am

Thanks for this Imax. Seven breeding pairs doesn't sound great over 93km of river? Do you know what size territory they maintain? Did the count include Giant Eagle Owls? I ask because I believe these will actually prey on the Pels.

Do you mean only one Great White Egret and one Little Egret were seen along the whole stretch?

It makes one wonder about the water quality - is it up to feeding the water birds and fish-eaters?

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Re: KNP Pel's fishing owl survey

Unread postby pantera leo » Sat Jul 25, 2009 9:22 pm

Halo all Stiffnecks, and all other thanks for the updates thus far. This is devastating news about all species concerned along Olifants.

Does anyone now where one can find a detailed list of survey including number of birds sighted?

Thanks for the trouble.

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Re: Owl: Pel's Fishing

Unread postby JoelR » Wed Aug 04, 2010 8:33 am

Image

My 3rd Pel's sighting in a 3rd different place, in the fig tree forest in uMkhuze Game Reserve in KZN. This juvenile showed nicely while an adult was sitting a bit further away. My other 2 sightings were also at well-known Pel's sites: Olifants River in KNP and Shakawe in Botswana.

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Re: Owl: Pel's Fishing

Unread postby ndloti » Wed Aug 04, 2010 9:16 am

I saw one very briefly in 1992 to the west of Olifants trail camp on the northern bank of the river .
If I recall correctly the rails ranger mentioned they readily fly when approached - is this commonly agreed upon ?
Is direct human presence a contributory factor to their scarcity along the Olifants river in KNP ?
KNP is sacred. I am opposed to the modernisation of Kruger and from the depths of my soul long for the Kruger of yesteryear! 1000+km on foot in KNP incl 56 wild trails.200+ nights in the wildernessndloti-indigenous name for serval.

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Re: Owl: Pel's Fishing

Unread postby lee lewis » Wed Aug 04, 2010 9:46 am

It would be interesting to get a professional's opinion on this, as perhaps the Pel's Owls that used to roam along the Olifants River evidently left (or died off???) around 2006/2007.

To me this looks like a "pre-curser" to the crocodile deaths in the same river in 2008/9 - in other words, perhaps the owls died due to the poisoning or lack of their usual diet.

As mentioned before, it would be interesting to get a professional theory on this issue...
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I SAY NO TO HOTEL DEVELOPMENTS IN KRUGER NATIONAL PARK!

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Re: Owl: Pel's Fishing

Unread postby wildtuinman » Wed Aug 04, 2010 9:54 am

ndloti wrote:If I recall correctly the rails ranger mentioned they readily fly when approached - is this commonly agreed upon ?


Doubt that it is commonly agreed, but that is my experience with them as well.

ndloti wrote:Is direct human presence a contributory factor to their scarcity along the Olifants river in KNP ?


I am not so convinced that there is a scarcity on the Olifants river as far as Pel's Fishing-Owl is concerned. I wrote something about exactly that, elsewhere. If someone is interested in reading it, please pm me and I will pm the information to you.
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