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SAFRING's mission: SAFRING is based at the University of Cape Town and provides bird ringing services in South Africa and other African countries. This entails providing ringing equipment to qualified ringers, and curating all ringing data. SAFRING communicates with ringers and interested parties through annually publishing one or two issues of a newsletter, Afring News, and by maintaining a list server. SAFRING holds national training courses, annually if there is sufficient demand. SAFRING liases with the provinces who have the responsibility of issuing permits. SAFRING has a strict code of ethics to ensure the safety of birds handled. SAFRING acknowledges the importance of bird ringing in that it has been described as the most important tool in ornithology in the 20th century.

The South African Bird Ringing Unit (SAFRING) administers bird ringing in southern Africa, supplying rings, ringing equipment and services to volunteer and professional ringers in South Africa and neighbouring countries. All ringing records are curated by SAFRING, which is an essential arm of the Animal Demography Unit. Contact is maintained by the SAFRING Project Coordinator with all ringers (banders in North American or Australian terminology).


Longevity of the Mountain Wheatear
Dane Paijmans (2015-01-28)

This week’s longevity record looks at the Mountain Wheatear. This individual has really seen his share of retraps and as of last month took his place as the oldest Mountain Wheatear in our database. This affinity to being resighted is primarily due to his love of mealworms as he regularly visits the ringer (Ursula Franke) at her holiday house to get these treats. He also enjoys the occasional beetle but does not fancy rose beetle grubs. As he was first ringed as an adult and has been sighted a few times since the last record he is likely older than the current record. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.
The photo accompanied by this article is accredited to Ursula Franke.

    Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Passeriformes
       Family: Muscicapidae
             Genus: Oenanthe
  no record (Roberts 7)
  >8.64 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Oenanthe monticola   FH33533
  Common name   Sample size
 Mountain Wheatear   Ringed: 690      Retrapped: 83
  Recovered: 3 Total: 776
Longevity of Methuselah the Great White Pelican
Dane Paijmans (2015-01-21)

I hope everyone had a wonderful festive season and that 2015 has got off to a great start! To kick off this year's longevity stories we have a very special record: the oldest living individual currently in the SAFRING database. This title belongs to the Great White Pelican nicknamed "Methuselah" by Mark Boorman.

Methuselah, or "Peter the pelican" as he* is also known, was first ringed by Hu Berry on Bird Rock; a man-made guano platform just a few kilometers off Walvis Bay, Namibia. As a young researcher, Hu Berry ringed Methuselah as a chick on the 30th December 1972. Since then Methuselah doesn't appear to have travelled far from home. Although little is known of his first 30 years, Methuselah was re-sighted at the Raft Restaurant in Walvis Bay on 21 February 2003 by Mark Boorman. Since then he has been spotted on several occasions around Walvis Bay and Swakopmund by registered ringers Mark Boorman and Peter Bridgeford, as well as bird enthusiasts Nigel Goodgame, Laszlo Haraszthy and a group from Mola Mola Safaris.

Methuselah earned his nickname after being re-sighted on 5 January 2015 (making him 42 years old). This age exceeds all our longevity records in the SAFRING database and as far as I can tell is the greatest age for any pelican in the wild. Of the 8 pelican species around the world, there are few wild individuals that come close to this age, the second oldest on record being a wild Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) at 27 years 10 months (North American bird ringing programme). There are however some captive records exceeding 42 years, the oldest being an American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) at 54 years, and another Great White Pelican which reached 51 years (Longevity Records: Life spans of Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish by Carey and Judge).

It will be interesting to see if Methuselah has what it takes to outlive his captive counterparts but only time will tell. In the meantime if you are out and about near Walvis Bay keep an eye out and let us know if you happen to spot this old-timer.

Background information on "Peter the Pelican/Methuselah' taken from "Bridgeford, P. 2009. (...Of Shoes and ships and sealing-wax) and pelicans and rings. Mitteilungen newsletter 50: 33. The photo accompanied by this article is accredited to Mark Boorman.

If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details

* Or "she" - the sex of Methuselah is currently unknown.

    Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Pelecaniformes
       Family: Pelecanidae
             Genus: Pelecanus
  28 years (Roberts 7)
  >42 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Pelecanus onocrotalus   H01024
  Common name   Sample size
 Great White Pelican   Ringed: 1188      Retrapped: 115
  Recovered: 166 Total: 1469
Longevity of the Groundscraper Thrush
Dane Paijmans (2014-12-03)

This week’s longevity record looks at the Groundscraper Thrush. Due to the limited retraps and recoveries this species does not have a representative sample to calculate the longevity from. Additionally this individual was ringed as an adult and only retrapped so it will be older then this current record. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

    Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Passeriformes
       Family: Turdidae
             Genus: Psophocichla
  2 years (Roberts 7)
  >6.58 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Psophocichla litsipsirupa   4H29216
  Common name   Sample size
 Groundscraper Thrush   Ringed: 550      Retrapped: 16
  Recovered: 2 Total: 568
Longevity of the Lilac-breasted Roller
Dane Paijmans (2014-11-26)

This week’s longevity record looks at the Lilac-breasted Roller. This is one of the species that requires additional records to establish a better longevity result. Although nearly eight hundred of these birds have been ringed we at SAFRING receive very few resigtings and recoveries. We have many species where this is a problem so representative longevity records are not available. Please think of this next time you go ringing and attempt to resight species with few retrap/recovery records. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

    Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Coraciiformes
       Family: Coraciidae
             Genus: Coracias
  8 years (Roberts 7)
  4.27 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Coracias caudatus   580515
  Common name   Sample size
 Lilac-breasted Roller   Ringed: 744      Retrapped: 18
  Recovered: 4 Total: 766
Longevity of the Helmeted Guineafowl
Dane Paijmans (2014-11-19)

This week’s longevity record looks at the Helmeted Guineafowl. After nearly running one of these over the other day I was not surprised to discover that they had quite short life spans. There are a number of records around this 8 year mark, although many sites online state they may reach 15 years (none of these have references though). This specific individual was released into the Cape of Good Hope in 1955 as an adult so it may be a little older. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

    Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Galliformes
       Family: Numididae
             Genus: Numida
  8 years (Roberts 7)
  >7.76 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Numida meleagris   52403292
  Common name   Sample size
 Helmeted Guineafowl   Ringed: 2995      Retrapped: 15
  Recovered: 111 Total: 3121
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