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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).

Our Vision and Mission

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.

New Longevity record of the Eastern Golden (Yellow) Weaver
Dane Paijmans (2015-07-01)

On reviewing the longevity records within the SAFRING database I noticed an interesting retrap of an Eastern Golden (Yellow) Weaver by Andrew Pickles. This individual was initially ringed in the Umzumbe River Floodplain, Kwa-Zulu Natal on 7 December 2002 and coincidentally retrapped exactly 12 years later on 7 December 2014. This is a new longevity record for this species and as this individual was initially ringed as an adult and only retrapped it will be over the calculated age of 12 years. The previous longevity record for this species was held by an individual from these same floodplains (click here for article) which lived over 9 years (ring number: BH19329). If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.
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    Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Passeriformes
       Family: Ploceidae
             Genus: Ploceus
  8 years (Roberts 7)
  >12 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Ploceus subaureus BH12812
  Common name   Sample size
 Eastern Golden Weaver   Ringed: 5069  Retrapped: 411
  Recovered: 18  Total: 5498
Furtherest movement for a sunbird
Christie Craig (2015-06-24)

In general sunbirds are known to move little, most recaptures are from the same site that they were ringed at. However sometimes sunbirds are found a fair distance from where they were ringed, one such bird is a Scarlet-chested Sunbird (Nectarinia senegalensis). It was ringed (see record) at Chirawanoo Farm in Zimbabwe and then was found dead two years later at Chegato, Zimbabwe some 360km away. When looking at other records for this particular species, 76% of recaptures are at the site where it was ringed and the average movement for these birds is 10.82km. This makes this particular individual quite unusual. The Scarlet-chested Sunbird is widespread in Africa but occurs mainly in the eastern region of South Africa, with some individuals in the Northern Cape. These birds rely on nectar sources to sustain them but will also feed on arthropods from time to time. It is likely that sunbird movements are driven primarily by nectar availability. If you have any interesting sunbird records please send them to

Sad, but interesting recovery of a Brown Snake-eagle
Dane Paijmans (2015-06-18)

We received an interesting but sad recovery of a Brown Snake-eagle from our Facebook page last week (click here for facebook story). As the reporter (Kelvin Lighton Mkandawire) gave an interesting account I felt only his words would give the story justice. Please see his account below:


Details on the Recovered Ring - read as follows (INFORM SAFRING - UNIVERSITY CAPE TOWN 9A 30449)

This steel Ring was found on unidentified raptor that caught a large snake and flew with it, while in flight, somehow the snake coiled on one wing of the bird and disrupting the birds flight, as a result of this dramatic scenario both the bird and the snake fell to the ground while locked together, this unusual wrestling encounter that began in the air now continued on the ground, the snake struggling to free its self from the tight grip of the Raptor while the Raptor on the other hand trying to free his entangled wing from the snakes body, the snake taking advantage of its length started pulling the Raptor along with it, unfortunately, the place where they landed from the air was on a dirty road in Simachila Village, this dirty road is one of the most frequented local routes for most people in the area, this means that all this was happening in full view of the so many local people that were present at the time, when all local concluded that this scenario was some form of Witchcraft or at least related (Wizards Fighting in disguised form), one resident came with a Shot Gun and killed both the snake and the bird.

This spectacle drew so much attention in the area being the first time such an incident happened where a bird and snake would fight so strongly with none of the two being stronger than the other, had it not been for these two being shot at, the fight could have gone on for quite a long time, the two wrestlers now dead, were displayed on the roadside for would be onlookers to catch a glimpse, they were left there until the following day when the villagers decided to burn them, it was at this point when it was discovered that the bird had a Ring on one of its legs, among these villagers was a School Headmaster from Bbakasa Primary School in Mutolanganga Important Bird Area one of the sites where Birdwatch Zambia operates, this is the man who convinced the villagers to remove the Ring before burning it, he learned the importance of bird ringing and ring recoveries from the IBA School Education Program that Birdwatch Zambia runs in IBA Schools in Zambia.

At this information being availed to them, they chopped off the head of the Raptor, and the leg where the Ring was and gave them to the headmaster who reported the incident to me, I couldn’t ID the bird from the chopped head and leg because they were poorly preserved and got rotten, however, I received the Ring which is at Birdwatch Zambia Offices, this incident happened in Mapanza area of Choma District in Zambia on the 22nd of August 2013."

This Brown Snake Eagle (ring number :9A30449) was first ringed as an adult by John Robson in Bitterfontein, Steenbokpan on 26 January 2007.

Although this was a controversial account we still greatly appreciate the information as it is important to get these details no matter what the circumstances. If you happen to know of any similar accounts whether they are deaths related to “muti” collection or individuals being shot as they were pests/fpr food please do let us know by contacting SAFRING or by using our Recovery Page.

The photo and story accompanied by this article are accredited to Kelvin Lighton Mkandawire.
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Longevity of the Black-capped Bulbul
Dane Paijmans (2015-06-10)

This week’s longevity record looks at the Dark-capped Bulbul. A few months ago I calculated the longevity record for a Cape Bulbul which lived in excess of 11 years (ring number: BB09354). On reviewing the other bulbul species in our database I found this longevity bested by a Dark-capped Bulbul ringed and retrapped a number of times by Trevor Snyman in Marionwood Nature Reserve, Pinetown. This individual was first ringed in 1987 as an adult female and since then has been retrapped an additional six times until it was last seen alive in 2002. This makes our longevity record over 14 years 10 months and 23 days. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.
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    Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Passeriformes
       Family: Pycnonotidaee
             Genus: Pycnonotus
  12 years (Roberts 7)
  >14.88 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Pycnonotus barbatus   BB42940
  Common name   Sample size
 Dark-capped Bulbul   Ringed: 26714      Retrapped: 1737
  Recovered: 180 Total: 28631
New longevity record for the White-breasted Cormorant
Dane Paijmans (2015-06-03)

We recently received an interesting resighting of an older White-breasted Cormorant (ring number: 978110) by Mr Albert Schultz from Port Elizabeth. This individual was first ringed as a chick by Dr Paul Martin in the same area some 21 years 9 months before. I was interested to see that this record bested both our previous SAFRING longevity record (ring number: 902745) and the Roberts 7 longevity by 6 months. Our database did have one additional record that was older (25y1m27d; ring: 901054), although as this ring was recovered without the attached bird the record could not be counted as a longevity. An encouraging detail of this record is that it was a resighting, so the bird is still alive and healthy and will hopefully be seen again many more times. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.
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    Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Suliformes
       Family: Phalacrocoracidae
             Genus: Phalacrocorax
  21.3 years (Roberts 7)
  21.79 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Phalacrocorax lucidus   978110
  Common name   Sample size
 White-breasted Cormorant   Ringed: 4506      Retrapped: 27
  Recovered: 710 Total: 5243
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