On Tuesday 6th March we successfully organised and hosted a farmers day in Maclear, Eastern Cape which saw approximately 40 farmers from Elliot, Ugie and Maclear attend the day. The day was themed around crop damage by birds as the some farms in the North Eastern Cape have experienced noticable damage to maize crops by birds, in particular the Grey Crowned Crane. Between 2005 and 2007 Mark van Niekerk, a former crane field officer in the area, completed his Masters research study looking at quantifying maize crop damage by Grey Crowned Cranes in the North Eastern Cape. The main objective of the farmers day was to provide a platform for Mark to present the results of the study as he completed his Masters last year. I then gave a presentation entitled ‘Getting Avipel into South Africa: Protecting your crops from damage by birds’. The morning’s presentations were concluded with a presentation from a farmer in the Karkloof, Rene Stubbs that looked at the benefits of ‘No-Till’ planting based on 17 years of practicing ‘No-Till’ on his farm in the KZN midlands. All the presentations were well recieved and proved very informative for all present, and I’m sure the information will spread further. The day ended with a lunch of ‘local veld fed beef’ wors rolls and fresh potato salad, with many in-depth discussions around the content of the morning’s talks. If anyone is interested to learn more about the content of each of the three presentations then please contact me directly. Thanks to Mark van Niekerk and Rene Stubbs for travelling and taking time out of their busy schedules to give their very interesting talks. Thanks to Mel Sephton and Helen Lechmere-Oertel, Maclear locals, for assisting in organising the venue, food and advertising the talks. And finally to Theuns Botha for braaing the wors so that food was hot and ready for eating when we finished….a great day in South Africa with farmers and locally produced food!
The EWT ACCP in partnership with EWT’s Wildlife Conflict Mitigation Programme are working together to take the crop damage work and research further in South Africa and good progress is being made and we look forward to a future where farmers and birds can peacefully co-exist…watch this space!