12 ways to protect the land

STEP 8: Protect breeding sites.

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Because animals and birds spend most of their time looking for food, we tend to be most aware of their foraging habitats. Just as important to their survival, though, are the places where they rest and breed. In many cases, these have dense cover or water (or both) that provide protection. This means that natural bush, watercourses and wetlands are all important to a wide variety of creatures, even those that do not forage in these habitats.

Animals and birds – both young and adults – are at their most vulnerable when breeding. Birds, for example, will sometimes abandon their nests if disturbed, while excessive disturbance or insufficient food can cause the milk of a lactating mammal to dry up.


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  • If you know of a breeding site on your farm, take care to protect it from disturbance of any kind – including predation by domestic cats and dogs, and trampling by livestock.
  • Protect areas of dense natural vegetation and allow indigenous plants to grow around wetlands and dams.
  • If reedbeds need to be burnt, this should be done outside the breeding season of birds such as the crowned crane and wattled crane.
  • After the chicks of cranes, bustards and korhaans have hatched and left the nest, they are highly vulnerable until they are able to fly. Avoid disturbing them at this time as they may run into a fence and break a limb.
  • Consider erecting nest boxes for species such as owls, and create islands in dams to encourage waterfowl to breed.

Benefits to you
A large bird roost is a beautiful sight and can help to attract eco-tourists. The presence (and even better, the breeding success) of a rare or endangered bird, insect or animal on your property can also attract eco-tourists and wildlife enthusiasts. Successful breeding of wild animals is one of the indications that your farm management is ‘green’ and is benefiting conservation and increasing biodiversity.

Source: Harrison, J & Young, D; 2010. Farming for the Future: Farming Sustainably with Nature. Animal Demography Unit, University of Cape Town.