In as much as the month of February is known for the celebration of Valentine’s Day, some Batswana throughout the country have volunteered to count birds during the same month.
It might not come as much of surprise, given that lovers are often referred to as lovebirds.
“During the whole month of February, some Batswana throughout the country volunteer to count birds from a 2km route in their areas through the Bird Population Monitoring Programme (BPM) which is a citizen science initiative. Botswana has not been an exception in joining the developed countries as it is one of the only four countries in Africa involved in managing its natural resources through the use of the citizen science programme,” said Keddy Moleofi, BPM Project Coordinator with Birdlife Botswana.
She said citizen science is termed as public participation of non-scientists in scientific research and is an important tool for monitoring and evaluating local and global environmental change. BirdLife Botswana has proved that indeed the use of citizen science enables large-scale data collection and availability, increase in scientific literary and monitor environmental quality.
“For instance, the BPM Programme preliminary analysis shows that availability of robust bird data can positively influence and guide effective conservation management actions like knowledge of the threatened birds abundance in the park, control of the Red-billed Quelea population and alien invasive species population.
For example, the Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea records show that this grain pest (so-called ‘Africa’s feathered locust’) is more frequently encountered in northern Botswana. Results demonstrate the value that the BPM can provide to agencies requiring spatio-temporal trends in birds of interest, in this instance for quelea control by the Ministry of Agriculture,” she explained.
She said they are calling out for more volunteers to be part of this magnificent Programme by joining the upcoming February 2015 count. “Being part of the count is very important and you will be contributing to global birds data. As a key feature, the Programme is a small effort that offers great birding opportunities and which needs to be sustained over a long period. Potential recruits wishing to join the counts should contact the nearest BirdLife Botswana branch/office to register for the programme and to be allocated a route/transect to start counting annually,” Moleofi said.
She said once one has shown interest they will be given information about how to count along the transect and a form in which to record the bird counts and return the completed forms to the nearest BirdLife Botswana branch/Office or send them back by post P O Box 26691, Gamecity Gaborone.