World Wetlands Day 1999 in South Africa

13/02/1999

Activities reported for World Wetlands Day 1999

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What happened on World Wetland Day, 2 February 1999 in Mpumalanga, South Africa

This day was celebrated with great enthusiasm in the Dullstroom - Lydenburg region of the Mpumalanga Province in South Africa.

The Verloren Valei Nature reserve held a wetland educational outing for eigty five scholars and six teachers of the Hambanathi, Mount Nebo and Mpilonhe Combined schools. Frans Krige and Martha Makuwa from the Mpumalanga Parks Board discussed topics such as wetland conservation, the reintroduction of wattle crane and the value of medicinal plants. A talk on the responsible use of crop protection chemicals was given by Vicki Hudson, a field worker for the Highlands Crane Group and the Poisons Working group. Other games was played and a practical wetland walk closed the day off.

Another activity in the Dullstroom - Steenkampsberg region was the reintroduction of four young wattled cranes. This was a project of the South African Crane Working Group, a working group of the Endangered Wildlife Trust. The aim of the project is to boost the wild population of wattled cranes which is already declared as a critical endangered species. The project - which is still in its baby shoes - had released a number of five birds last season. These birds moved out of the Dullstroom area and were killed by powerlines and poisoning. Because wattle cranes rely on wetlands for feeding, roosting and breeding it seems as the best day to reintroduce these four young to the wild. These birds will be closely monitored and everything possible will be done to allow them to grow to maturity.

In Lydenburg the Mpumalanga Parks Board and the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism held a workshop and a practical wetland session for fourty Environmental Education officers from all over the province. Since this year’s theme is wetlands and people, Environmental Education Officers was targeted to take the wetland message further. Eleven of the province Environmental Education centres and a representative of the Spekboom primary school attend the day. A. Linström (Mpumalanga Parks Board) the facilitator of the workshop gave a talk about Wetlands and people. After hearing about the wetland themselves and how to identify a wetland site, these keen young environmentalists learned about the other facets of wetlands like amphibians by J. Theron (Mpumalanga Parks Board), and cranes by Ms. K. Morrisen (Highlands Crane Group). They were then taken on a practical wetland session where the functional values and wetland characteristics were discussed.

We at the Mpumalanga Parks Board hope that the year 2000 will have more activities and that more people will realise the value of our endangered wetlands.

-- reported by Anton Linström ( mlinst@lantic.co.za ) 

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