|Avian Demography Unit
Department of Statistical Sciences
University of Cape Town
Projects of the Avian Demography Unit
BIRP - Birds in Reserves Project
Project coordinator - Marius Wheeler
The Birds in Reserves Project (BIRP) was a direct follow-on from the South African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP) and its methods will be very similar. The main difference is that we will not be atlasing grid squares but instead will focus on specific localities such as nature reserves, national parks, sanctuaries, conservancies and any other other protected areas.
The SABAP has given us a database on species' distributions on a relatively coarse scale. What it does not tell us is which species are protected within which reserve boundaries. Neither a database on distribution nor a database on protected species alone provides one with sufficient information to really get to grips with problems of how best to conserve all our species of birds. However, with both databases one could relate the protection picture for a species, or its "conservation status", to use the jargon, to its overall distribution. This would allow one to assess whether the species is adequately protected and, if the answer is no, allow one to decide where reserves should be established to do the job.
South Africa has approximately 1575 registered BIRP areas! Many of these are small and unknown to the public at large but may, in fact, be of great importance and significance in the struggle to conserve South Africa's full range of biological diversity. With few exceptions, the bird species which are protected within these areas have not been listed. This ignorance not only prevents appropriate management decisions from being made but may even threaten the very existence of some protected areas as they come under increasing people-pressure. BIRP will not only improve our ability to conserve birds effectively but will also help to put many of the less well-known protected areas "on the map" and thereby help to ensure their protected status into the future.
The Avian Demography Unit (ADU), in association with the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), have recently launched a new and improved bird portal. You are invited to continue to this site by following the appropriate link at the bottom of this page. On this new web page you will find all the information you need with regards to BIRP, including access to protected area data, species data, etc.
We hope that your participation in this project will bring you many
hours of enjoyment and a sense of satisfaction from contributing to a scientific
endeavour which will help in the conservation of our birdlife.