A singular honour was bestowed on Maggie Langlands, a local resident of St Francis Bay, last week. BirdLife South Africa presented her with an “Owl Award” for her outstanding contribution to the conservation and protection of birds and their habitat.
In this award ceremony, held at the Southern Sun Hyde Park Hotel in Johannesburg, BirdLife South Africa acknowledged companies and individuals who donate their time and money to the organisation, which makes it possible to continue all their conservation programmes and projects. Maggie was among companies, captains of industry and well-known personalities to receive this award. Only twelve Owl Awards, one Owlet (for a youngster) and two Eagle-Owl Awards are presented each year from the many nominations nation-wide that are submitted so it is a notable honour for Maggie to have been chosen.
Maggie took it upon herself, and has spent the last five years organizing and motivating a dedicated team of monitors from the local St Francis Bay Bird Club to undertake regular counting of birds potentially affected by the Wind Turbine Farms constructed and under construction in the Kouga Municipal area of the Eastern Cape.
This undertaking is independent of any formal arrangement set up by those directly involved in the Wind Farms.
The species specifically under scrutiny are endangered Denham’s Bustard, Blue Crane and White-bellied Korhaan. Other priorities include a large population of Black Harrier, many of the larger raptors – Crowned Eagle, Martial Eagle, Long-crested Eagle – and large migrations of Amur Falcons and White Stork.
With her eye on the future, she has also been instrumental in ensuring that the construction and operating companies involved are aware of their current and prospective environmental obligations and is at present leading an initiative on behalf of the St Francis Kromme Trust to establish a Stewardship Biodiversity Programme with local landowners, farmers, and communities whose land is affected directly or indirectly, by these turbines.
Farmers involved in these initiatives may realise benefits such as increased marketing opportunities, tax benefits and access to support and advice from conservation staff. The Eastern Cape Nature and Tourism Department is fully supporting this endeavour and with Maggie’s assistance and recommendations have appointed a full time Environmental Officer to steer the project.
Maggie paid tribute to her dedicated team of birders who volunteer their time and expertise every six weeks to monitor birds on wind farms. All records are submitted to Birdlife South Africa on a six weekly cycle as well as to the Animal Demography Unit at the University of Cape Town.
Article & Photographs supplid by Yvonne Bosman