Learn about the wet­land won­der­lands

Fluff­tail Fes­ti­val fo­cuses on th­ese ecosys­tems, cru­cial to bird species

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - KARISHMA DIPA karishma.dipa@inl.co.za

YOU CAN now do your shop­ping, en­joy a meal and learn about the im­por­tance of pre­serv­ing the en­vi­ron­ment – all in one place.

This is at the an­nual Fluff­tail Fes­ti­val, which starts to­day and runs un­til Mon­day at the Maponya Mall in Soweto.

The event, which is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween BirdLife SA, Eskom, the De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs and Rand Wa­ter, will ed­u­cate young and old about our lo­cal habitat.

BirdLife spokesper­son Linda van den Heever said the aim of the fes­ti­val was to raise aware­ness about threat­ened habi­tats such as wet­lands; en­dan­gered birds, es­pe­cially White-winged Fluff­tails; and sav­ing wa­ter.

She stressed the im­por­tance of pre­serv­ing wa­ter. “With the drought still grip­ping many parts of the coun­try, there’s no bet­ter time to be rais­ing aware­ness about wa­ter.”

Van den Heever em­pha­sised the im­por­tance of car­ing for wet­lands, which she said are es­sen­tial ecosys­tems that have mul­ti­ple func­tions.

“From clean­ing wa­ter and pro­vid­ing a medium for recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties, to pro­vid­ing homes for White-winged Fluff­tails and other an­i­mals, wet­lands are truly won­der­lands.”

This year’s Fluff­tail Fes­ti­val, which co­in­cides with World Wet­lands Day on Thurs­day, also has a fun set-up.

“It takes the form of a giant maze as well as a pup­pet show, pre­sented by the Rare Finch Con­ser­va­tion Group,” said Van den Heever.

She ex­plained that fam­i­lies are en­cour­aged to col­lect an en­try form and wan­der through the maze, stop­ping at five dif­fer­ent sta­tions to an­swer ques­tions.

Each cor­rectly com­pleted en­try will stand a chance to win one of the many prizes on of­fer.

The in­ter­ac­tive pup­pet show will be an­other fea­ture of the fes­ti­val, which starts at 9am daily in the Ster-Kinekor the­atre.

“Schools, with the en­dorse­ment of the De­part­ment of Education, will also be vis­it­ing on week­days,” said Van den Heever.

Young au­di­ences will also learn the im­por­tance of pre­serv­ing the White-winged Fluff­tails.

“Waxi the Hero takes young au­di­ences on an ex­cit­ing ad­ven­ture as he and Wandi the wat­tled crane so­licit the help of their feath­ered friends to find Fluffy the Fluff­tail, who hasn’t been seen in ages,” she said.

Those who visit the fes­ti­val this week­end can also take their mem­o­ries home af­ter hav­ing their pho­tos taken in a makeshift wet­land while wear­ing var­i­ous props, such as gum­boots and binoc­u­lars.

“They will re­ceive th­ese im­ages, hard copies as well as elec­tronic copies, for free,” Van den Heever added.

Par­tic­i­pants will also re­ceive a sticker and an in­for­ma­tive brochure.

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