MISSION 17 of 2012
Name of Mission: Bonizwe Flights (3) for the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute
Date of Mission: 9th August 2012
Pilots and Aircraft: Harold Bloch & Mark Rule & Craig Strang
Beneficiary: The Percy Fitzpatrick Institute, University of Cape Town
Intro for the Annual Report:
As part of our Bonizwe Programme The Bateleurs has offered annual flights to Prof. Graeme Cumming of the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute at the University of Cape Town. The Bateleurs Bonizwe Programme aims to provide senior students of environmental studies with an opportunity to apply an aerial perspective to their study topics.
The flights in 2012 took place on the 9th August and were flown by pilot members Harold Bloch, Mark Rule and Craig Strange, flying a Mooney M20K, a Piper Dakota and a Beechcraft Bonanza, respectively.
The report presented below was prepared by the students who benefited from these flights.
A New Perspective
The Conservation Biology class of the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, would like to thank The Bateleurs of South Africa for an incredible trip on Thursday, August 9th, 2012. We would like to extend a special thank you to our pilots, Harold, Mark, Craig, and Graham, who gave us their time, not only to share with us a new perspective on many issues that have arisen over this course, but also to pass on their knowledge, experiences, and passions, as well as inform us about the amazing work done by The Bateleurs. Having a different view of the world has allowed us to better understand the potential benefits of aerial surveys for animal counts, land surveys, monitoring land-use changes, and looking at landscape patterns and connectivity on a scale that is impossible using ground-based techniques. Understanding where the information comes from, that we use every day, puts into perspective how it is obtained, and what information can be collected from an aerial platform.We have spoken a lot about landscape patterns, and seeing the patchwork of farmland of different crop types, interspersed with wetlands, mineral extraction plots, urban areas, river patterns, and infrastructure, allows a very different conceptualisation of theories and practices we have been discussing throughout our programme. Including a visual understanding of terrain in the landscape allows us to think about water and nutrient flows, agricultural runoff, aspects of dispersion potential, and access to habitat for different types of wildlife. Landscape connectivity is a topic that continues to come up in almost every module of our course. The opportunity to view a system from above changes the way that you understand the importance of patch networks, corridor systems, and urban green-space areas. Flying over protected areas enabled us to think about the benefits and shortfalls of protected areas and the difficulties in planning expansions or alterations to our current park system. Flying over the ocean and the Langebaan Lagoon was incredible and allowed us to get a better idea of how aerial surveys can increase the accuracy of certain bird counts by taking photographs and counting individuals on enlarged images. Watching flamingos fly over the water was a magnificent sight, and thanks to the experience of our pilots they were able to help us distinguish different water birds in the lagoon, even from 800m above the water. Using aerial techniques over land-based bird counts could help to increase the accuracy of our understanding of wildlife abundance in certain areas and habitats, and help us to manage wildlife more accurately.
Some of us had the opportunity to get an aerial view of our thesis project study sites. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to gain a landscape scale spatial perspective, and this has helped us expand our understanding of our study systems. Again, we would like to send our appreciation for this amazing experience and look forward to following The Bateleurs in their future missions. Hopefully, as our careers move forward, we may be involved in some of the future Bateleurs missions.
Thank you to our pilots and The Bateleurs for helping us to understand better our world from above.
The Conservation Biology Class of 2012:
Craig Harding, Heinz Ortmann, Jessica Greenston, Lou Palframan, Kirsten Retief, Lea Cohen, Koebraa Peters, Vera Liebau, Chrissie Madden, Caz Sanguinetti, Kimon de Greef, Kat Forsythe, Jah Namah, Daniel Cloete, Wade Lane.