What is an
Important Bird Areas form part of an international
conservation programme implemented and run by BirdLife International and its worldwide partners to
protect and conserve bird species.
In South Africa their partner is BirdLife South
IBAs protect and conserve not just birds, but
the habitats that support them and in so doing, also protect other plant, insect, reptile and
mammal life that live there. It's what is known as Biodiversity.
There are over 120 IBAs in South Africa and more than
10 000 IBAs worldwide.
In 2007 The Lake Victoria wetland,
Mount Moreland was declared an IBA, an
Important Bird Area, by Birdlife International and BirdlifeSA as it hosts a roost of over 1% of the world's
migratory barn swallows.
The Mount Moreland roost is also South Africa's
largest barn swallow roost.
Estimates of the number of Barn Swallows using the roost at any given time vary from
1.5 million to the more popular 3 million.
In fact numbers of Barn Swallows could well exceed
these estimates, even 10 million has been estimated, as it is
now realised that the Lake Victoria roost at Mount Moreland is a important
transitionary roost, acting as a stop-over for barn
swallows on their way to more southerly
Since 1996 the Lake Victoria Conservancy, made up of
environmentally aware and concerned Mt Moreland residents, have acted as the local custodians for the Barn Swallows
and their wetland roost, particularly championing their
cause during the development of the nearby King
Shaka International Airport.
As a result of work done Birdlife and the
Conservancy, the Airports Company South Africa installed a special bird Detect radar which was further adapted to monitor
the tiny barn swallows and their movements in
relation to the relatively low approach flight path
of the aeroplanes. This 'early warning' system which
feeds straight into the Airport's Air Traffic
Control tower and is relayed to pilots will safe
guard both the planes and the barn swallows.
It is a worldwide first and
its success could provide not only kudos for South Africa
and ACSA but some very interesting and unique data on the
For more details visit http://www.barnswallow.co.za
The Mt. Moreland Roost is an IBA -
(Important Bird Area). Birdlife International has declared it such as it contains over 1% of
the world’s barn swallows. IBA’s are recognised throughout the world as important bird sites.
The possible destruction of the Mt. Moreland roost would not wipe out all the barn
swallows in the world but would be a very good way to start and it would be a shocking
indictment of South Africa’s attitude to this international environmental phenomenon. Hence
an IBA was needed and achieved.
The Swallow Roost, the Mt. Moreland wetlands and
their catchments, the Umdloti river, the flood plain, and the nearby
estuary leading to the sea at Umdloti are a gem waiting to be polished. It would serve our
City well if it took cognisance of this and provided a green corridor to compensate for the
excessive carbon footprint created by the airport.