Code of Ethics


We, the members of BirdLife South Africa, believe that birders have an obligation at all times to protect wildlife, the natural environment, and the rights of others.  We therefore pledge ourselves to provide leadership in meeting this obligation by adhering to the following general guidelines of good birding behaviour.

Birders must always act in ways that do not endanger the welfare of birds or other wildlife.  In keeping with this principle we will :

  • Observe and photograph birds without knowingly disturbing them in any significant way.
  • Avoid chasing and repeatedly flushing bird/s
  • Only sparingly use recordings and similar methods of attracting birds and not use these methods in heavily birded areas or during breeding season.
  • Find out if other birders are happy with the use of recordings and ensure that they know you are using such devices
  • Keep an appropriate distance from nests and nesting colonies so as not to disturb them or expose them to danger
  • Refrain from handling birds or eggs unless engaged in recognised research activities

Birders must always act in ways that do not harm the natural environment.  In keeping with this principle we will :

  • Stay on existing roads, trails and pathways whenever possible to avoid trampling or otherwise disturbing fragile habitat
  • Leave all habitat as we found it

Birders must always respect the rights of others.  In keeping with this principle, we will :

  • Respect the privacy and property of others by observing “No Trespassing” signs and by asking permission to enter private and posted lands
  • Practice common courtesy in our contact with others.  For example, we will limit our requests for information, and we will make them at reasonable hours of the day
  • Always behave in a manner that will enhance the image of the birding community in the eyes of the public

Birders in groups should assume special responsibilities.  As group members we will :

  • Take special care to alleviate the problems and disturbances that are multiplied when many people are present
  • Act in consideration of the group’s interest, as well as our own
  • Support, by our actions, the responsibility of the group leader(s) for the conduct of the group

As group leaders we will :

  • Assume responsibility for the conduct of the group
  • Learn and inform the group of any special rules, regulations or conduct applicable to the area or habitat being visited
  • Limit groups to a size that does not threaten the environment or the peace and tranquillity of others
  • Teach others birding ethics through our words and example

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