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"Middelpunt Wetland Trust & the White-Winged Flufftail"

Middelpunt wetland

The Whitewinged Flufftail was discovered in this wetland in 1981. Shortly thereafter, the then owner decided to try to improve the winter grazing potential of the 60 hectare wetland by excavating a drainage ditch, one metre wide and 1,5 metres deep, down each side of the marsh, a total distance of approximately 5 kilometres.

The bird was not seen at this site again until 1990 when a group of birders, including Deon Coetzee, went to search the marsh for the bird. A bird was flushed. The fact that the bird was only known to occur at three sites in South Africa, together with the almost total lack of scientific knowledge about it caused great concern to Deon. This led him to start negotiating with the owner of the farm to lease the wetland to enable constructive conservation action and research to be conducted. Deon initiated the trust in 1994 to create a formal vehicle for this work.

In 1995 the trust entered into a ten-year lease with the landowner over the Middelpunt marsh.

Bird's eye view of the Middelpunt Wetland in 1992
This view shows a typical section of the ditch when it was dug in 1982. The disturbance to the soil caused considerable growth of weeds and plants normally alien to the wetland.
In 1995 the trench was mechanically filled through a generous donation by a local businessman, Mr Willem Piso. The slide shows the return to the natural state after three growing seasons.