Local resident receives national award


Maggie and Roger with Maggie’s “Owl Award” for her outstanding contribution to the conservation and protection of birds and their habitat.

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.

Owl awards

Owl Award winners at the award ceremony, held at the Southern Sun Hyde Park Hotel in Johannesburg

Article & Photographs supplid by Yvonne Bosman

A dog day afternoon

A very interesting afternoon was spent at the Sea Vista sports field on Thursday afternoon in the company of some very dedicated ladies. Each Thursday afternoon, weather permitting, Stephanie Ernsten who has taken over the great work done by Rebecca Tilders, runs a clinic for the Sea Vista community at the sport field. Accompanied by local vet Narina Botha of Aloe Veterinary Clinic and Tanya Keyser of SPCA Assisi Humansdorp and SPCA assistants Desmond and Simon they administer to the needs of the dogs, and cats we were told, although no cats were seen that day.

As new dogs arrive, the owners details are recorded and the they are given a dog ‘passport’ which they are required to bring each time they visit the clinic. Narina gives any necessary injections as well as checking out those animals that need attention which seem few and far between for most were in good condition, some in excellent condition and well cared for.  Once necessary treatment has been given by either Narina, Stephanie or Tanya, depending on what needs to be administered, the dogs are handed over to Desmond and Simon who bathe them. Certainly not a job for the faint-hearted for very few of the dogs seem to enjoy their encounter with the dipping process but Desmond and Simon are thankfully experienced and very capable handlers so no one was bitten. After their bath the dogs are offered a doggie biscuit treat although it must be said most dogs preferred to run helter skelter to shake of the water from their bath.

Towards the end of the afternoon five youngsters arrived each carrying a puppy that was not much more than a few weeks old. Very cute they were but, herein lies the problem. This world simply does not need more dogs being born.  Recently some St Francis residents would have attended functions to raise funds for the “Open your Eyes – Sterilize” campaign, the most recent being the SPCA Book Fest luncheon held at St Francis Links. Another is being held at Dune Ridge Country House on Thursday 29 October from 11:00 to 2:00 where St Francis’ nutritionist, Alison Jones, will talk about using good nutrition as a powerful weapon against poor health, ageing and weight gain. Tickets are only R150.00 and will go to a truly worthwhile cause of reducing the number of unsterilized dogs in the area. Sarah-Jane Swanepoel of Dune Ridge will, as always, be putting on a lovely spread so please make an effort to attend.

To end what was certainly an interesting afternoon, we made a house call with Stephanie to tend to eight new born puppies (last  photo). The mother was not too interested in have eight hungry mouths suckling  as she was stationed outside the enclosure but Stephanie managed to coax her in to feed the pups even if it was only for a quick snack. Cute little blighters, but unless these pups are sterilized they in turn are going to go and produce litter after litter.

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Trivia: If you are wondering where you have heard the expression “Dog day afternoon”, it was a 1975 movie starring Al Pacino based on a true story in the early seventies in which the Chase Manhattan Bank in Brooklyn, was held siege by a gay bank robber determined to steal enough money for his male lover to undergo a sex change operation. It was the 70’s however so the movie depicts the robber as heterosexual trying to get money for his lover (played by Penelope Allen).