Visitors wooed at Bird Fair

Marthie Coetzer from the Black Eagle Project guides a visitor who's looking through the telescope to view the habitat of the eagles. Photo: Siso Naile.


Bird specialists and fanatics defied the scorching sun of the past weekend to grace the African Bird Fair at the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden.

This two-day event, from 9 and 10 September, saw crowds of people geared up with camera equipment, buying and gaining knowledge from various exhibitors about different bird species and their habitats.

David Hewitt looks into the telescope to learn about the black eagles under the guidance of Marthie Coetzer. Photo: Siso Naile.

The event was hosted by BirdLife South Africa, an internationally recognised organisation which promotes the enjoyment, understanding, study and conservation of wild birds and their habitats.

The hosts made the event interesting for the visitors by providing lectures and guided tours during the event.

Charlene de Villiers and Alecia Sklar enjoying the bird fair at the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens. Photo: Siso Naile.

An eagle specialist organisation, The Black Eagle Project, a non-profit organisation operating at the Botanical Garden, used their telescope to show visitors how eagles live and behave.

“We monitor the Black Eagle pair to learn their behaviour, breeding cycle and prey. We talk to the public about our eagles and try to get the children interested by showing them the eagles on their nest through the telescope, near the waterfall,” the project coordinator, Marthie Coetzer, explained.

The Endangered Wildlife Trust was also among the exhibitors. Rebotile Rachuene and Steven Segang from the organisation created awareness about cranes and owls.

Steven Segang from Endangered Wildlife Trust talks to a visitor about what the Trust offers. Photo: Siso Naile.

Rachuene told Northsider that two of the 12 owl species are endangered, namely the pearl fishing owls and grass owls which are found on agricultural holdings. They’re endangered because they are being killed in black communities who believe they are associated with witchcraft. “People don’t know the value of owls. Owls can help you chase away mice from your property.

It is a just generational tradition that owls are associated with witchcraft. This has never been proven,” said Rachuene.

He appealed to the public not to harm the owls, and said they should rather contact the Trust to intervene.

For more information on the Trust and its activities, visit its website at

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