Birdlife South Africa

Birds, Frogs and Flower Power!

When residents of Chrissiesmeer in Mpumalanga realised they needed to improve their socio-economic situation they came together in an attempt to find a solution through viable tourism. Birdlife South Africa in conjunction with TRAC (Trans African Concessions) saw an incredible opportunity to get involved and the rest as they say is birding and tourism history.

Drawn to the Mpumalanga Lake Districts surrounding Chrissiemeer, whose main assets are their amazing birdlife and freshwater lakes and pans, Birdlife SA and TRAC with the help of Dr Anna Spenceley of Spenceley Tourism And Development (STAND cc) developed a tourism and marketing plan. The initiative, centred on the Mpumalanga Lake Districts would ensure sustainable socio-economic development through responsible tourism and be beneficial to all parties involved. 

The Mpumalanga Lake District has the highest concentration of inland lakes in South Africa and houses the Chrissie Pans Important Bird Area (IBA), which supports more than 220 species of birds, of which 17 are endemic.  When the pans are wet, total numbers regularly exceed 20 000 birds!

A hot spot of activity for the avid bird-watcher and nature lover.

The tourism plan, which was implemented in 2011, includes a hiking trail that meanders through the area and includes specially created bird hides, thus catering for the tourist keen to discover nature’s beauty on foot while trying to spot the many types of birds settled in the ecological wetlands. These trails are best taken in the company of one of the many well-trained local community Birdlife SA guides who are so in tune with the environment that they are your best bet when it comes to viewing the elusive winged creatures.

To provide a fully experiential holiday, certain events in the area have made their way onto the yearly calendar including the Annual Frog Night in December held under the experienced eyes of Ané and Nico Steinberg of Florence Farm, who have hosted it for the past 14 years. On this “environmental night of fun”, visitors to the farm get to track frogs, classify them and check them for diseases before returning them safely to their natural habitat.

Another event, which was a raging success this year, was the Annual Wildflower Weekend, a colourful and fun celebration of summer for the flower enthusiast.  Going forward, much more will be added to this package including music, food and a wildlife festival, thereby increasing appeal to the Mpumalanga area and drawing in mush needed tourism.

Top 10 birds in Mpumalanga:

  • Yellow-breasted Pipit
  • Rudd’s Lark
  • Southern Bald Ibis
  • Narina Trogon
  • Orange Ground Thrush
  • Gurney’s Sugarbird
  • Blue Swallow
  • Gorgeous Bushshrike
  • Southern Ground-Hornbill
  • Crowned Eagle

Did You Know?

Mpumalanga Lake District has:-

  • 83 water bird species
  • 16 globally and nationally threatened bird species
  • 17 endemic or near endemic bird species

Popular bird trails in Mpumalanga:

·         Kaapsehoop (bird habitats – grasslands and forests)

·         Wakkerstroom Bird Hides:

o   Sasol Flufftail Hide

o   Crane Hide

o   Clive Beck Memorial HideZ

o   Iain Drummond Hide