Last September, the team at &Beyond Phinda, in conjunction with EKZN Wildlife and the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Wildlife Conflict Prevention Group, hosted their third successful Poison Control workshop. It was attended by Phinda staff, EKZN Wildlife, members of the SAPS and members of our neighbouring communities (many of them senior IzinDuna and various influential elders and teachers). The aim was to educate the communities about the dangerous effects that various chemicals used by farmers are having on our wildlife. The workshop concentrated mainly on the dangers of the poison TEMMIC (used by pineapple farms) and other poisons that kill dung beetles and oxpeckers.
As a result of these workshops, the Endangered Wildlife Trust approached &Beyond with a proposal to relocate yellow-billed oxpeckers to Phinda. These birds are classified as ‘vulnerable’ in South Africa, with between 150 and 300 pairs remaining. Poisoning is the main threat to their future existence - the chemicals used in cattle dips have significantly reduced their numbers. The birds are killed when they feed on ticks exposed to the poisons. A team from &Beyond will fly to Namibia to capture as close to 100 birds as possible. The birds will be relocated to Phinda, where they will spend two weeks in an aviary to acclimatise, before being released onto Phinda land. Phinda will be the first private game reserve in South Africa to relocate yellow-billed oxpeckers and (hopefully) the first to successfully establish a healthy population of these endangered birds.