Above picture: Enthusiastic BirdLife eThekwini KZN members go seabird watching out of Durban, South Africa
BirdLife eThekwini KZN is the bird club servicing the greater Durban municipal area of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Province. Established in Durban in 1949 as the Natal Bird Club, it is one of the oldest bird clubs in Africa. As an affiliate club of BirdLife South Africa, Birdlife eThekwini KZN shares the parent body’s goals as they relate to the conservation of birds and their habitats within the province and therefore the club plays an important role in conservation, as well as influencing various aspects of birding within KwaZulu-Natal. Encouraging an awareness of birds and their habitats is one of the prime objectives of the club, with the other major goal being the support of conservation activities and wherever possible assisting with the funding of important conservation projects.
The Mouse-Free Marion Project (MFM Project) is one of the projects that the club has taken under its wing. It uses a variety of events and predominantly our annual calendar to raise funds for bird-related conservation. To date we have increased our original donation to the MFM Project to a total of R40 000, sponsoring a whopping 40 hectares of Marion Island to ensure the eradication of the House Mice that are threatening its seabird populations. The club has also sponsored a further four hectares, two in memory of a late committee member, Arnia van Vuuren, and two for The Urban Birder NDM Foundation. This makes the club the clear leader among all the other 24 affiliated clubs (out of 40) that have made sponsorships to date.
The club and its members believe that the MFM Project is one of the most important conservation efforts being undertaken in South Africa and by our national organisation. This means we endeavour to provide support whenever possible. The club is extremely proud that it has been able to provide the level of funding that it has to date; it being one of the most substantial contributions it has made to a single conservation project. Several club members have also made personal sponsorships, including Bill & Anne Braine, Nicolette & Ticky Forbes, Rob & Paige McLennan-Smith, Cecily Salmon and Dael Stojakovitch.
The Mouse-Free Marion Project is a mammoth challenge and has to be successful, so BirdLife eThekwini KZN is issuing a challenge to the other affiliated bird clubs in South Africa and their members, as well as to other conservation NGOs, to come to the party or increase their existing sponsorships to assist with this important project. If we all pull in the same direction, we can make a huge difference – every little bit helps.
More about the club
BirdLife eThekwini KZN has grown significantly over the past two years and now has over 600 members who enjoy as part of their membership the benefits of around 80 activities per year for free. These activities are also open to visitors with a donation to the club’s conservation fund. The monthly activities have been restructured a little so that people know what sort of outing it is going to be – this means the club now has some of its usual activities labelled and branded with an icon so in-person activities such as Walks and Sit-Ins still occur, but Atlassing, Weekends Away and Day Tripping have been added. We have also extended our online offerings with Let’s Chat Birds & Birding sessions which are in a learning and workshop format, monthly Guest Presentations and Quizzes. There are also ad hoc events which are individually named or labelled according to the theme or reason for the event. Information on these activities can be found on the club’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.
The club is also proud to have recently redeveloped a BeKZN Fledglings youth-focused section of the club to cater for 6–16-year-olds. In keeping with the club’s albatross logo, the mascot for this section is a goonie.
Nicolette Forbes, Chair, BirdLife eThekwini KZN, 25 October 2022