'Voice of Africa' unites Cape Winery, youth centre and UCT

Vintners at the Goudini Wine Cellar near Worcester, learners from the nearby Eureka Youth Centre, and academics from the University of Cape Town, have come together .....

Vintners at the Goudini Wine Cellar near Worcester, learners from the nearby Eureka Youth Centre, and academics from the University of Cape Town, have come together in a new initiative to research the conservation status of the African Fish Eagle in the Breede River Valley.

Brainchild of Mr Nico Dippenaar, Marketing Director of Goudini Wine Cellar, this new project combines the winery's need to promote its flagship wines, that bear a Fish Eagle motif, and its desire to contribute to both the upliftment and education of the local community, and the welfare of the region's natural heritage. The Fish Eagle is also the emblem of the Eureka Youth Centre, and is symbolic of the centre's vision - namely to rehabilitate young criminal offenders, restore their self-belief, and help them to "soar on eagle's wings" into a proud, new future.

While the project is still very much in its infancy, the ultimate objective is to involve learners from Eureka in surveying and monitoring Fish Eagle nests along the Breede River valley between Robertson and Wolseley. Scientific expertise on the project is provided by Dr Andrew Jenkins of the Western Cape Raptor Research Programme, based at the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology, UCT. The Fish Eagle is one of only three large eagle species that frequent the Western Cape. While it not immediately threatened, it is a well-known, charismatic and iconic bird, and its wild, evocative cry is widely regarded as the 'Voice of Africa'.

Very little is known about the status of the Fish Eagle in cultivated areas of this region, and the project will focus initially on locating all the breeding pairs present in the study area. Once the local eagle population has been comprehensively surveyed, it may be possible to expand the project to include an assessment of the effects of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals on the eagle's breeding success. 'Agrochemicals' can run-off into river systems, contaminate fish and other aquatic organisms, and effectively poison predators such as the Fish Eagle. The eagles therefore have excellent potential as indicators of the general health of the Breede River ecosystem.

If the project progresses as planned, the latter stages of 2003 will generate a deservedly more effective and eco-friendly branding for Goudini wines, a crop of spiritually enriched and environmentally aware learners at the Eureka centre, and more concern for and awareness and understanding of the valley's magnificent eagles.

Goudini Wines
+27.233491090