Invasive animals are just as detrimental to the environment and conservation efforts as invasive plants. Mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) threaten the genetic integrity of some indigenous ducks, while house crows (Corvus splendens) compete against indigenous bird species for resources and spread human enteric diseases. These are just two examples of many alien invasive animals threatening our ecosystems.
The National Invasive Animal Forum (NIAF) was formed on 7 March 2013 in Cape Town with the aim of gathering experience and expertise in the field. It is hoped that the forum will be able to assist conservationists and urban managers deal with the conflict associated with animal invasions. The forum is also a meeting place for scientists, biologists, conservationists, policy-makers and other interested stakeholders concerned about issues relating to invasive animals. Chaired by Tim Snow, many of the forum’s members originally sat on the National Problem Bird Forum and came to the newly constituted forum with a wealth of experience.
A second meeting of the NIAF was recently held on 12 June 2013 at the KZN Sharks Board in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal. The control and management of mallard ducks and house crows were two topics under discussion, and representatives from the City of Cape Town Invasive Species Unit, Endangered Wildlife Trust Crane Programme, Ezemvelo-KZN Wildlife, Birdlife SA, Grain SA and Environmental Programmes: Nursery and Pet Trade Partnership, were present. Other matters raised included the current population explosion of gerbils (a small rodent) which is causing havoc across agricultural regions, particularly for maize and sunflower producers. Maize producers have lost an estimated R70 million in maize production due to this rodent, which tracks down and eats the germinating seeds. It also causes a hazard for tractors and equipment which become stuck when colonial burrows collapse.
The aim of the National Invasive Animal Forum is to co-ordinate efforts among all stakeholders and prioritise research efforts and implementation plans. It is open to anyone interested or involved in invasive animal management. Future meetings are scheduled to take place in KZN and in the Cape, and these intend to bridge the gap between people working on all forms of invasive organisms by creating awareness and collaboration. For more information, email Tim Snow at firstname.lastname@example.org