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The Wildlife and Aircraft Research Namibia Project

The Wildlife and Aircraft Research Namibia Project started in 2008 as a Doctorate Research project of Morgan Hauptfleisch, deputy HOD of the Polytechnic’s Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Sciences. The project is a partnership between the Polytechnic, NAC, the Centre for Environmental Management of the University of the Free State and the Southern African Institute for Environmental Assessment (SAIEA). The project is concerned with finding proactive measures to minimise the risk of aircraft-wildlife collisions (mostly but not limited to birds) at Namibian airports while considering the value of Namibian wildlife and birds. The project differs from most efforts to deal with the problem globally which focus on reactive measures dealing with birds once they already pose a risk to aircraft. The project has expanded to provide scientific ecological guidance to the aviation industry in Namibia regarding wildlife and bird risks. In this regard it has begun investigating a colony of White-backed vultures adjacent to Hosea Kutako International Airport, as well as investigating airport neighbour activities which might attract wildlife to NAC airports. It has further analysed “birdstrike” data for the past five years to determine risk species. Its Bird Strike Centre and Research Lab has become the coordination point for aviation and scientific / biological expertise and includes as partners NAC, SAIEA, Airlines, the Centre for Environmental Management of the University of the Free State, the Polytechnic of Namibia, the National Museum of Namibia, the National Museum of South Africa in Bloemfontein, airport neighbours and conservation NGOs.

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