The Wakkerstroom Wetland Reserve and Training Centre was conceived as a multi-functional facility, offering environmental education and training to enhance skills development within local communities.
Wakkerstroom was chosen as the site for the first SappiWWF TreeRoutes Partnership project as it is home to one of the largest populations of threatened bird species in South Africa. It is also one of the most important recreational birding destinations in the country, and one where the Wakkerstroom Natural Heritage Association and the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Authority have built an excellent foundation for conservation action.
Sappi sponsored the purchase of the farm in 1998, with the objective of consolidating the Wakkerstroom Wetland Reserve into the long-term management plan of the Wakkerstroom Natural Heritage Association managed by the Mpumalanga Parks Board.
Bird guides from destinations all over South Africa have been trained by BLSA at the Wakkerstroom Training Centre. Some of these guides, all of whom are drawn from local communities, are now employed at the Partnership’s Dlinza Aerial Boardwalk, while others are successfully self-employed bird guides. The facilities allow other corporates to sponsor the training of bird guides.
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INTRODUCTION TO WAKKERSTROOM
The village of Wakkerstroom has developed significantly because of the rapidly growing interest in birds and birding and the fact that Wakkerstroom is one of the best places to see the grassland biome specials. Amongst the specials occurring in the area are Rudd’s Lark, Botha’s Lark, Yellow-breasted Pipit, Blue Korhaan and Southern Bald Ibis.
All five South African species of Harrier visit Wakkerstroom at certain times of the year. Recent research on the critically endangered White-winged Flufftail, undertaken jointly by Middlepunt Wetlands Trust and BLSA, has resulted in records being kept of this elusive bird for the past three years (2003, 2004 and early 2005). No survey was conducted during the 2005/2006 season due to excessive water in the vlei.
Special thanks for images
Renier Botha-Special Shot Photography
Eco-tourism = Community + Environment