Name of centre: Wakkerstroom Tourism and Education Centre
Name of Organisation: BirdLife South Africa
Funding support: Accommodation and guided bird tours as well as funded environmental education projects
Number of staff: 2
Number of visitors per year: 450
Overall aims of the centre
BirdLife South Africa strives to conserve birds, their habitats and biodiversity through scientifically based programmes, through supporting the sustainable and equitable use of natural resources and by encouraging people to enjoy and value nature.
Description of the centre
The Wakkerstroom Tourism and Education Centre is located on the outskirts of the Wakkerstroom Village on approximately 141ha. The area has long been known globally as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Are and is listed as such (IBA SA020). It is a birding haven with marvels to entice both the experienced and newcomers to this rewarding pastime. Various habitats are found within a short distance from the Centre – grassland, mistbelt forests, gorges, cliffs, and an extensive wetland system.
374 Bird species found: Wetland species include: Grey Crowned Crane, African Grass Owl, African Snipe, African Purple Swamphen, African Marsh Harrier, Red-breasted Flufftail and African Rail; Grassland birds include Rudd’s and Botha’s Lark, Yellow-breasted Pipit, Southern Bald Ibis, Blue Korhaan, Denham’s Bustard, Buff-streaked Chat and Ground Woodpecker. Some of the forest species include: Bush Blackcap, Chorister Robin, and Olive Woodpecker.
Plants species: 202 species of trees and woody plants in the broader district. Yellow Shell-flower Bush (Bowkeria citrina) is endemic to the area and is also listed in the Red Data book. 1250 non-woody plant species of which Wakkerstroom Geranium (Geranium wakkerstroomiamum) is endemic to the eastern highveld and commonly occurs in the hills and valleys around the village.
- 45 dragonfly species recorded with the eastern highveld endemic Sapphire Bluet (Africallagma sapphirinum) being included.
- 90 species of reptile and amphibian being recorded for the area
- 68 mammal species including the more commonly seen Suricate (Suricata suricatta)
The Centre offers comfortable and affordable accommodation in our guest suites, dormitory rooms, and campsite for a range of guests and birders alike. In addition, we offer conferencing facilities to small groups. We also assist in arranging guided bird tours into the broader district with trained local bird guides. A visit to the area in their company, can almost guarantee you the opportunity to see the three endemic species, restricted to Southern Africa’s high-altitude grasslands – Rudd’s and Botha’s Larks and the Yellow-breasted Pipit.
Main CEPA work area
Communication: Centre staff are represented on various associations on the local community as well as involved in the association’s newsletters. Staff are also involved on these groups’ social media platforms.
Education: The Centre hosts various groups on overnight and day programmes as well as implementing funded projects at a local and district level. We also coordinate three junior bird clubs in the district on a weekly basis. Our Centre Manager coordinates and implements the BirdLife International Spring Alive project in South Africa.
Participation and awareness raising: The Centre staff are very much involved with the local community, local organized events, and open days. We share all our work with community members and engage with them on a participatory level. The Centre Manager coordinates a local poverty relief programme at a base level – Working on Fire team.
Top three successes
- Environmental education programmes through our involvement and coordination of the three junior bird clubs and in the broader district
- Support of the local community and associations in all our work and programmes as well as our BirdLife South Africa membership base
- Willingness of schools and after care programmes to participate in our events and environmental education activities
Top three challenges
- Funding for education programmes and the Centre on a sustainable/long term basis
- Funding for additional support staff
- Interactions and support of conservation efforts with local subsistence farmers
Creating signage; site information; Producing written materials; Developing nature trails
Setting up a new visitor centre; Running a visitor centre;
Working with disabled people; Engaging young people; Engaging the local community; Working with volunteers
Education and communication
Early years education; Working with primary schools; Working with secondary schools; Developing resources / materials
Running effective administration; Project planning.
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