FACT BOX ON FLUFF­TAIL

Saturday Star - - METRO -

THE white-winged fluff­tail is one of Africa’s rarest and most threat­ened wet­land birds, largely re­stricted to high-al­ti­tude wet­land habi­tats in South Africa and Ethiopia. The pop­u­la­tion is es­ti­mated to num­ber only 200-250 and, in light of habi­tat loss and degra­da­tion over the past 10 years, this species faces a sig­nif­i­cant risk of ex­tinc­tion. Its se­cre­tive and elu­sive be­hav­iour sees it re­garded as one of the most enig­matic species in Africa. | Source: Birdlife SA to un­lock fur­ther un­ob­tru­sive mon­i­tor­ing tech­niques to bet­ter quan­tify the pop­u­la­tion size and dis­tri­bu­tion of these cryptic wet­land birds,” says White­cross.

Colyn is pas­sion­ate about the de­vel­op­ment of less in­va­sive mon­i­tor­ing and spa­tial mod­el­ling meth­ods that al­low for the study of threat­ened and se­cre­tive species across south­ern Africa – like the white-winged fluff­tail.

“Luck­ily with the im­prove­ment in tech­nol­ogy, we no longer need to try to ac­tively lo­cate these birds, but can de­ploy cam­era traps and mi­cro­phones to cap­ture their be­hav­iours and pres­ence with min­i­mal dis­tur­bance from the re­search team,” adds White­cross.

“This is a ma­jor game-changer in BLSA’S con­ser­va­tion of this crit­i­cally en­dan­gered species as we can now broaden our search ra­dius be­yond just one or two wet­lands a sea­son.”

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