Gauteng boasts a species list of around 507 birds and every year more rarities are being reported. This phenomenon can likely be attributed to a large variety of habitats ranging from broad-leaved woodlands to thorny acacia scrub-lands, open grasslands and many more. As urbanisation increases more and more species are forced from their natural habitats and move away from the city to more rural areas. In order to keep a high level of bird biodiversity there must be open areas that are kept natural and hopefully free of domestic animals and invasive species. These areas are sanctuaries for our wildlife and are thus very important to protect.
The Greater Kyalami Conservancy (GEKCO) has several large areas which could provide “sanctuary” for wildlife but sadly development (construction) and urbanisation has greatly reduced these areas. Over the years large number of species has been recorded in the area (230 species) but many of these are not resident or are frequent visitors. The conservancy is located fairly close to the Northern Farms Reserve which is well-known for its large number of bird species; this could be one of the reasons that so many unusual species have been recorded in the conservancy. Another important factor is that many migrant birds may use the conservancy as a rest stop on their long journeys and this has been witnessed by a couple of our researchers who spotted species such as Red-backed Shrike which remained in the area for a short amount of time during 2012.
GEKCO is also home to a few breeding pairs of African Grass-Owls. These birds, which are listed as Red Data species, depend heavily on mature grasslands to make their nests and reproduce. They also require undisturbed hunting grounds. The unique nature of the conservancy must be maintained if these increasingly rare species are to survive.
If you have seen a bird species in the area and it is not currently on the list, please contact me so I can add it. Please be aware that if the species you saw is unusual or out of range I will need a photo as verification before I can add it to the list. Email: email@example.com
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