Wednesday, January 17, 2018
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World Birdstrike Association

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Collecting Wildlife Information - an African perspective

Students conducting research in grasslands adjacent to the main runway at Hosea Kutako Airport in Namibia.


 Morgan Hauptfleisch- Polytechnic of Namibia – Wildlife and Aircraft Research Namibia Project


The ICAO Aerodromes Annex 14, standard 9.4.1.b puts that the wildlife strike hazard on an aerodrome shall be assessed by the collection of information on the presence of wildlife constituting a potential hazard to aircraft operations. The ICAO Airport Services Manual Doc 9137 AN/898 Part 3 on Wildlife Control and Reduction specifies that this should be carried out by trained, competent and well-equipped staff.

In Africa, despite the economic growth experienced by many countries, there is an increasing lack of persons trained in birds and wildlife to make sure that there is a sound balance between economic development and preserving natural resources. To compound this, the few persons that get skilled in this subject are often lured to Europe and the USA.  This makes it difficult to find relevant specialists to assist airports in reducing the wildlife strike hazard. In many cases unskilled emergency services personnel are tasked with wildlife hazard management, as they are employees with the lowest general workload, and are on site 24 hours a day. Another option would be to get consults from abroad, but that is often considered too expensive. Furthermore, their inadequate understanding of ecological, social and practical constraints often reduces their impact on minimising the risk of bird/wildlife strikes. Therefore, local knowledge should to be grown and shared generously.

To address the situation in Namibia, the Namibia Airports Company (NAC) joined forces with the Wildlife and Aircraft Research Namibia (WARN) Project and the Polytechnic of Namibia’s School for Natural Resources and Tourism. Their students are allowed to do their internship at the Namibian airports. For the mutual benefit, the students have undergone 6 months training about the problem of wildlife at airports and focus their projects on solving this problem. For example, information is collected about the vegetation, birds and other wildlife that are present at the airports. The data are analyzed and processed in risk assessments in order to come up with the best solutions possible to help the airport authorities in reducing the wildlife strike hazard.

The Namibian case could be an example for other countries that lack skilled ecologist.

Two students from the Polytechnic of Namibia conducting bird surveys at Hosea Kutako Airport in Namibia.

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