Middelpunt Wetland Fencing Fundraiser


Help protect the only confirmed breeding site of the Critically Endangered White-winged Flufftail in the southern hemisphere

BirdLife South Africa is developing a wildlife-friendly fence to safeguard Middelpunt Wetland. Purchase 10 m of fence for just R500 and help us reach our target of 4km of wildlife-friendly fence that will protect sensitive wetland vegetation from being trampled and overgrazed by cattle. The wildlife-friendly fence design allows wildlife to move through the fence whilst reducing potential injuries and mortalities observed on standard cattle fences.

The White-winged Flufftail (Sarothrura ayresi) is listed as Critically Endangered, with an estimated global population size of fewer than 250 mature individuals. It is considered to be the rarest and most threatened rallid species in Africa. Ethiopia and, more recently, South Africa are the only two countries where the White-winged Flufftail is known to breed, with only one confirmed site in South Africa: Middelpunt Wetland. The White-winged Flufftail was first seen at Middelpunt Wetland in 1992 after many years with no presence records in the country. Those who saw the bird were concerned about the condition of the wetland and engaged with the owner to rehabilitate it. A lease was eventually signed in 1994 and Middelpunt Wetland Trust was formed as the vehicle through which to operate. BirdLife South Africa was invited to administer Middelpunt Wetland Trust in 2011 and since then has led national efforts to conserve this highly threatened species. Middelpunt Wetland formed part of the Greater Lakenvlei Protected Environment when it was established in 2017. Whilst this form of protection limits activities that could threaten biodiversity, it does not prevent them entirely. 

Inland wetlands across South Africa are mismanaged due to a lack of understanding of the drivers that govern wetland structure and functionality. Often livestock are left to graze in wetlands at the wrong time of year, resulting in sensitive wetland vegetation being trampled and overgrazed when wildlife need these habitats to breed and rear young. In agricultural landscapes, controlling the movement of livestock (and thus the main form of grazing pressure) is essential for properly managing and stewarding wetlands. Standard cattle fencing provides a means to control livestock movements, but often at the cost inhibiting, or seriously injuring, native wildlife. Thus, an innovative design is needed to effectively control livestock movements, whilst also allowing wildlife to freely move through the landscape. 

The wetland-wildlife-friendly fence proposed for Middelpunt Wetland will not only benefit the site itself, but will be evaluated and communicated in national wetland management guidelines for implementation across southern Africa.

Please consider supporting our quest to conserve the White-winged Flufftail and wetlands for the benefit of people and biodiversity.

Additional information

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