The National Gamebird Survey – 2021 to present
To promote the conservation of indigenous gamebirds and their habitat through sustainable utilisation – SA Wingshooters is again asking its members to participate in the National Gamebird Survey which is basically the resurrection of the 1996 survey. This will not only provide us with valuable information as to the present status of the gamebirds but will also provide us with comparison numbers from 1996. Do your part for the conservation of our gamebirds…
On a year-to-year basis, there is a lack of knowledge regarding the national status and trends of our gamebirds populations on which effective policy decisions, legislation and management should be based.
Following a National Council decision, SA Wingshooters now has the task of building up a national network of field observers to cover at least each bio climatic zone in the country. This network, in collaboration with other surveys, will operate through a central data bank and will enable us to monitor population trends on a regional and national basis. This will not only aid legislation and forecasts for the hunting season but will also identify problem areas pro-actively. It will also prevent unfounded assumptions from the anti hunting and animal rightist brigade.
Field observers can be any farmer, conservationist, birdwatcher, hunter, gundog owner, and falconer etc. who spends some time in the veld. It will be required of each field observer to complete a simple data sheet of his/her region once a year and send it through to Wingshooters. There will be two categories of field observers and each observer can choose in which he wants to be. In the first category all observations can be done while hunting or working dogs. The observer simply lists the species of gamebirds encountered during the day in the region together with his/her impressions of whether the birds are scare or abundant and whether they had a good or bad breeding season.
This data will then be correlated with regional climatic conditions and existing research data to determine trends. From a scientific point of view it will still be far from accurate, but will be one hundred percent more accurate than the system used thus far. The second category will be in coordination with other bird counting systems in South Africa and will be required to do an actual census of the gamebirds in his/her area.
Each observer will be advised of the appropriate census techniques applicable to the gamebird species and habitat in his/her region. By coordinating and standardising the census techniques and timing, we will be able to compile a database from which accurate long and short term trends can be determined.
The alarming increase of reports on gamebird poisoning also compelled Wingshooters to investigate the matter. Linked to the survey of the gamebird trends and numbers, field observers will also be requested to report on cases of gamebird poisoning in their area.
In this way SA Wingshooters plans to establish channels countrywide through which reports on gamebird poisoning can be consolidated and analysed. The ultimate aim will be to find practical solutions to the problem, which will benefit conservation and agriculture alike.
INSTRUCTIONS: GAMEBIRD SURVEY DATA SHEET
Please read through the instructions and complete the data sheet as accurately as possible.
If you cannot provide all the information, please complete the sections you can, or contact us for further clarification. Remember, any information is better than none, and we can gain valuable knowledge even if you only list the gamebird species in order of abundance in your area.
We need all the data possible to make a meaningful assessment of the gamebird population trends in our country. To enable us to include your contribution in our initial database, please return the completed form within 30 days.
DEFINITIONS AND INSTRUCTIONS –
Give the district and registered farm name or name of reserve or municipal area and/or coordinates.
Size of the observation area in hectares (If only a portion of a farm has been surveyed, please indicate the approximate size of that particular area).
PERIOD OF OBSERVATION
State month of observation. If possible, state time of day and duration of your survey. Preferably, observations should be made in a specific month within the optimum period for the species concerned.
E.g. April to July:
Guineafowl, Swainson’s Francolin, Natal Francolin, Coqui Francolin, Redwing Francolin, Greywing Francolin.
December to April:
Crested Francolin, Rock pigeon.
October to December:
March to May:
May to July:
Number all gamebird species in order of abundance relative to each other in your area, starting with the most abundant species.
Indicate with a cross in the relevant column whether the population has been stable or has increased or decreased in your area, compared to the previous year.
Indicate with a cross in relevant column.
Rare – seldom seen or heard. Less than 10 birds seen or less than three groups heard per outing (francolin).
Common – often seen or heard. Between 10 and 100 birds seen or between 3 and ten groups heard per outing.
Abundant - Numerous, more than 10 groups or 100 birds in area.
If you did a count of the gamebirds in your area, you can put in the actual numbers in the relevant columns instead of a cross.
With some species, such as greywing, redwing and coqui francolins a fair assessment of their numbers can be obtained by listening for different covies in the early morning or late afternoon. Total population size of the area is calculated by determining the mean covy size of some groups and multiply it by the number of groups heard in the observation area.
Bad – No or only few chicks seen;
Fair – Chicks often seen in breeding season;
Good – Virtually all adult groups with chicks.
Indicate with a cross in relevant column. If affirmative, you will receive a poisoning report form, requesting information on location and number of birds involved etc. as well as instructions on handling and submitting specimens for toxicology analysis.
Where to send it to:
Please email your survey to Dr. P.J. (Slang) Viljoen and to André van der Westhuizen. The details are at the bottom of the survey form.