A South African Appeal - longish

To: EBN <>, UKBirdnet <>, birding-aus <>
Subject: A South African Appeal - longish
From: Carol de Bruin <>
Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2000 12:52:00 +0200
Hi all

An appeal: I hope this does not compromise the ethic of the net. If it
does, I apologise up front - please don't flame me.

I know that the focus in your country may be on lands closer to home, and
quite rightly, but a unique, job creation and capacity building project in
South Africa might appeal to some of you. If this works, the material and
expertise will be offered to the BirdLife International African partners to
assist development in other countries.

BirdLife South Africa are initiating and funding a training programme for
disadvantaged people from our bird rich areas and rural communities. It is
designed to create access and break the present cost barriers to bird
guiding as a career.

100 people will be trained over the next two and a half years to act a s
Local Bird Guides in their own areas.

The training will start off with a 4 week residential course in Wakkerstroom
(if any birder comes to SA and misses Wakkerstroom, they should be severely
reprimanded). It will provide guiding skills for registration and the legal
status to operate as well as birding, environmental, cultural history and
entrepreneurial skills to equip the candidates to go back into their
communities and set up their own microbusinesses with the assistance of
"mentors" and marketing support from BirdLife South Africa.

These guides will not have their own transport and will not be in a position
to arrange overnight stays but they will be interesting companions to any
visitors. They will certainly know what their area offers the visitor in a
variety of aspects and will know the common and special birds. Also they
will have arranged access to private land where specials occur. They will
charge a very affordable hourly rate and would be prepared to take visitors
out for an hour or for a whole  day. Use of such guides would be of benefit
to the guide and boost the income of the community ? and they will provide a
low cost enjoyable experience for a tourist with a birding bias.

Real twitchers who have to see a lifer a minute might only utilise these
people to fill in time between being whisked off by the heavy  ornithologist
type guide.

Infrastructure and running costs of this project are high and the guides
need to be provided with personal birding equipment. We are at present
building our ?no frills? training and accommodation centre and have some
generous sponsorship from some local corporates. The weak Rand and poor
circumstances of a lot of the trainees has made it a very tight budget.

Assistance from other quarters is needed. Second hand but functional
binoculars or calculators, for instance, would be of tremendous assistance
and highly appreciated by the guides and the equivalent of 10 pounds would
buy a field guide.

If anyone or organisation wishes to assist or get more information, please
contact me directly.

Carol de Bruin
Special Projects: BirdLife South Africa

Phone/Fax:  +27 11 648 0898

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