Join the 5th Sasol Marakele Birding Breakaway

Bird-watchers in South Africa will have the opportunity to enjoy their chosen hobby to the full at the 5th Sasol Marakele Birding Breakaway. This popular event is sponsored by Sasol, a South African company that is a world-leader in coal-to-fuel technology. The 2007 event will take place from 2nd to 4th November 2007 at the Marakele National Park in Limpopo, South Africa.

Friday night of the Sasol Marakele Birding Breakaway will feature guest speaker, Ian Michlery from Africa Geographic. A full day of activities is planned for Saturday, including bird ringing and “Birding by tractors”. Saturday evening will be an ideal time to get together and compare notes while enjoying a braai (barbecue). Sunday will begin with a hearty South African breakfast followed by prize giving from BirdLife South Africa and Sasol.

The Sasol Marakele Birding Breakaway was first held in November 2002 and funds raised from the events over the years have been used to develop several projects in the park, as well as to assist the Ground Hornbill Project. This project was started with the support of the Endangered Wildlife Trust in 1999 at Mabula Game Reserve. The objective of the project is primarily for the conservation of Ground Hornbills which are considered to be vulnerable and heading for extinction. A practical hands-on approach has been put into place, which includes nest searches, collecting and hand-rearing chicks for release into the existing group at Mabula and then later re-introducing the birds into their original habitat, from which they have been extinct for the past 50 years.

The 2005 Marakele Breakaway was an outstanding success. Twenty-five teams consisting of two or more people handed in checklists bringing the combined total of birds recorded for the weekend to 274. Of these, five new bird species were added to the Marakele National Park’s database, these being African Grass-Owl, Sentinel Rock Thrush, Ashy Flycatcher, Pied Starling and Yellow Canary.

Apart from viewing the magnificent animals in South Africa’s national parks, many bird-watchers visit the parks for the diverse bird life to be found there. Honorary Rangers organise these birding weekends for the purpose of collecting data on the bird species in a specified area, to educate people about the wonders of birding, encourage beginner birders to interact with those that have more experience, raise money for various projects and simply to have fun.

So even if you are not an experienced bird-watcher, the beautiful game parks of South Africa present perfect opportunities for you to explore this fascinating hobby. Why not start with the 5th Sasol Marakele Birding Breakaway?