Conservation and Biodiversity Enhancement
The sugarbirds and sunbirds, with their long tails and iridescent colours, are keystone pollinators of approximately 400 plant species in the Cape Floristic Region of South Africa. However, our earlier research has shown that these iconic creatures are reluctant to cross urban areas. By building ecological corridors and restoring nectar-feeding bird migration routes across the densely urbanized Cape Flats, the Ingcungcu Sunbird Restoration Project links isolated patches of critically endangered Sand Plain Fynbos.
Links to Nature Reserves
School gardens are strategically planted to provide stepping stones between nature reserves (such as Table Mountain National Park, Sandvlei Nature Reserve & Rondevlei Nature Reserve). Learners are taken on walks to their local nature reserve, which gives them a chance to observe birds in their natural habitat. It also exposes learners to the important role that their school garden plays as a ‘filling station’ for nectar-feeding birds on their migrations between these natural habitats.
Learners are engaged in all aspects of the project which includes: planting of nectar-rich plants, learning plant names, collection of bird data, measuring floral nectar volume and, concentration. Furthermore, by means of presentations, worksheets and tying into the various curriculums, topics such as pollination, bird behaviour, habitat fragmentation, and urban ecology are covered through the lens of the Ingcungcu Sunbird Restoration Project.
Building Biodiversity Leadership
The project facilitates activities such as mapping, nectar measurement and analysis of bird census data, which integrate well into the natural science curriculum. Through questionnaires we have shown that the Ingcungcu Sunbird Restoration Project is able to influence learner’s attitude towards nature. We aim to identify young people with an interest in and talent for working with biodiversity and guide them to become environmental leaders.