[Oversea] World Cup airport will look out for Swallows

World Cup airport will look out for Swallows

News from BirdLife International


World Cup airport will look out for Swallows

As five million Barn Swallows migrate from across Europe to roost in South Africa’s Mt Moreland Reedland, they will be greeted by more than just birdwatchers. In future air traffic controllers at La Mercy Airport will be among those watching the birds come in, if necessary informing pilots of the swallow flocks when coming into land so that collisions can be avoided.

The plan to protect the birds will be announced tomorrow (November 11) at a special ceremony at the reedbed, attended by BirdLife South Africa.

The decision – one of a number of key mitigation actions announced – was made in response to global outcry last November, when BirdLife outlined its concern about the expansion of La Mercy Airport, in preparation for South Africa’s hosting of World Cup 2010.

The threat that planes would pose to the adjacent roost – arguably Africa’s largest – was put across by conservationists and BirdLife Partners throughout Europe, most notably by the RSPB, BirdLife’s Partner in the UK, a country in which a number of the Barn Swallows breed.

The campaign was led by BirdLife South Africa: “This has been a fantastic result, and we’re delighted to report on this outcome after a year of negotiations and meetings. The support of so many people – via letters and petitions – has played an important part.” said Neil Smith, Conservation Manager at BirdLife South Africa.

“Since our campaign started, the Airports Company of South Africa [the organisation behind La Mercy] has really come on board, quickly realising the importance of this site as a reedbed of international significance.”