Environmental Reports

READ | Record number of water birds observed and counted on Vaal River

Published on Jan 19, 2019


The Animal Demography Unit (ADU) launched the Coordinated Waterbird Counts (CWAC) project in 1992 as part South Africa’s commitment to International waterbird conservation. This is being done by means of a programme of regular mid-summer and mid-winter censuses at a large number of South African wetlands and rivers.

All the counts are conducted by volunteers; people and organisations with a passion for waterbird conservation. It is one of the largest and most successful citizen science programmes in Africa, providing much needed data for waterbird conservation around the world. Currently the project regularly monitors over 400 wetlands around the country, and furthermore curates waterbird data for over 600 sites.

The Vaal Birding Club joined the CWAC project 7 years ago, and conducts summer and winter counts (bi-annual) every year.  The latest Vaal River count (conducted 19th Jan 2019), was most heartening with the richness in birdlife in along the Vaal, in fine display.

The count was conducted by using various boats and by covering the stretch of river from the Taaibos all the way down to the Barrage.

From 6:30am to 12 midday, a total of 2,561 birds were counted and 41 species were observed and counted.  The Vaal Birding Club were excited to observe a new species, namely the Maccoa Duck which brings the total number of water bird species counted on the Vaal River up to 71 species.  This demonstrates the health of bird life flourishing along the Vaal River – it can proudly hold its head high in richness of diversity of species and numbers counted.

The numbers of the Blacksmith Lapwing (922), Whiskered Terns (113) and Great Crested Grebe (3) represent the highest number of species counted in the 14 counts that have taken place over the past 7 years.

This reflects well on the health of the wetlands and Vaal River’s water bird life.


For more information please contact Cliff Wright, Vaal Birding Club


Tel 083 304 5797.