FACT BOX ON FLUFFTAIL
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.”