The South African Bird Ringing Unit

Ringing birds around Africa!

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The History Of SAFRING

The First South African Ring Record!

Even at the age of 69, SAFRING is still young in comparison to some of the worlds oldest ringing/banding schemes (British Trust for Ornithology >100 years (1909), Bird Banding Laboratory - Patuxent Wildlife Research Center >90 years (1923), Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme >60 years (1953), and EURING > 50 years (1963); which comprises the oldest active ringing schemes (i.e. the Hungarian Ornithological Centre est. 1908)).

As a result of these schemes earlier efforts, we have many retrap/recovery records dating back to the early 1900s. The earliest record in our system dates back to 1909 where a White Stork ring was recovered after being shot in KwaZulu-Natal. It had a Hungarian ring 209 which had been put on the stork chick in Romania in the previous year. This was the first scientific evidence of a migrant crossing the equator.

Following this recovery there were many more White Stork ring sightings over the following years (Ring: VIB00198 in 1911 from Denmark, Ring: 287 in 1910 from Hungary, Ring: 2199 in 1910 from Hungary, Ring: 2298 in 1909 from Romania). The first sighting of a bird ringed in Britain was a swallow seen in 1911 (Ring: B830). To read more on this sighting please Click Here.

The First Ringing Session

Bird ringing in South Africa started in 1948 when the Southern African Ornithological Society (SAOS) initiated a bird ringing scheme under the leadership of Dr EH Ashton (please "Click Here" to read his account). The first birds to be ringed were 31 Cape Vultures Gyps coprotheres, ringed on 1 August 1948 at Kranzberg by a team of birders and mountaineers. A year later one of these, ring C00086 was found near Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, the first recovery of a southern African bird ring.

More coming soon