As part of the Trade School run at UKZN in August and early September, research assistant in the School of Life Sciences, Ms Preshnee Singh, and Senior Technician, Mr Ebrahim Ally, ran a class introducing participants to the basics of birding and bird ringing.
A 6am start on a Saturday morning saw participants gather at the Darvill Sewerage Works on New England Road for the class, which was offered in response to interest from participants eager to learn about birding.
The class was a part of an initiative that encourages the use of a barter system to facilitate the transfer of knowledge in exchange for goods or services that the instructors deemed valuable. For this class, instructors requested items such as empty egg boxes, disposable plastic containers, cardboard rolls and more for enrichment for laboratory animals - mainly rats, mice and hamsters housed at the University.
According to the organisers, the Darvill conservancy has a variety of habitats with an amazing diversity of birdlife. Southern Africa boasts more than 800 bird species, of which 150 are endemic. Singh and Ally, who hope that the experience will encourage participants to embark on birding as a hobby, taught basics from binocular use to identification using field guides.
‘Birds are the easiest animals for people to spot in their everyday lives,’ said Singh. ‘With South Africa’s wonderful variety you can bird almost anywhere outdoors, including your garden.
‘By promoting birding we can create an appreciation of our South African biodiversity which will help people to understand and care about conservation issues.’
Singh described the class as a great opportunity for the instructors to share their knowledge with the public and inspire people who they may otherwise not interact with.
Singh and Ally both work with many different types of animals on various research projects, teaching and training students about issues such as animal handling, trapping, identification, research planning, and data analysis, to enable excellent research in biology.
The two, along with Ms Karin Nelson, conduct bird ringing at Darvill at least once a month, and interested birders are welcome to attend and observe. Contact Ally on firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the mailing list for Darvill updates.