Know your inkonjane from your inhlolamvula? Here’s a guide ...


Know your inkonjane from your inhlolamvula? Here’s a guide that’s taken off

Second print run is under way as first copies of book that records Zulu bird names fly off the shelves

Janine Stephen

When Themba Mthembu first became obsessed with birds and conservation, people called him names. He was a “madman” wandering about, carrying binoculars; he was “brainwashed” when he talked sustainability, or suggested that locals be mindful of birds’ breeding seasons when they burnt the fields.

It was when he started to bring “other mad birders to their fields” and paid villagers to let tourists look for special birds on their land, that attitudes started to change, says Mthembu. “I wanted locals to reap the benefits of conservation and birding tourism.”

Thanks to his efforts, near-threatened rosy-throated longclaws (inqomfebomvu) now safely roam certain bird-friendly homesteads in northern KwaZulu-Natal, attracting keen avitourists to this undervisited area. Mthembu has trained hundreds of locals in bird lore and sustainability, enabling many to make a living from the estimated R927m to R1.7bn spent annually in SA by avitourists...

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