The month of June commemorates South African Youth. This year National Youth Day (16 June) and Youth Month will be celebrated under the theme: “Accelerating youth economic emancipation for a sustainable future.” 


The Wild Bird Trust will celebrate the success of young environmentalists involved in the Cape Parrot Project (CPP), using research and science to raise awareness of the endangered Cape Parrot, and securing critical habitat for the benefit of ecosystems. 


Siyabulela Sonjani, 35, from Khayalethu in Hogsback in the Eastern Cape, started working for the CPP in 2016 as a field staff member. 


He enjoys being in contact with nature and helps to monitor restoration sites and educational activities such as school camps.  


“I monitor and collect data from different sites that are currently under the CPP management. I gather data from planted trees using a variety of measurements. I also collect sound data by setting up Passive Acoustic Monitors (PAM) in the forest where we record data over several days,’ he said. 


He wishes to effectively create a better habitat for the wildlife in the Hogsback community. 


Tara Naeser, 28, from Pinelands, Cape Town, said that as the Limpopo Research Assistant, she spends hours every day observing the Cape Parrot in different areas around the Woodbush Forest.  


“From my observations, I can gather data like gender, age, activity and which direction the Cape Parrot travels to and from. I hope to help lay the foundation for assisting the Limpopo node to succeed, especially as it is a new branch of the CPP,” she said. 


Naeser said the conservation industry is very small and she must make sure she participates in all the great opportunities as it allows her to learn so much and meet interesting people. 


She is helping contribute to the understanding of the dynamics of the Cape Parrot and discover the similarities and differences between the Cape Parrot in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo. 


Siphelele Mhlalo, 24, from Hale Village in Hogsback works in the nursery at CPP where she helps grow plants that would conserve the natural habitat in Hogsback for the Cape Parrots.  


“I learned that one would need the right amount of knowledge to make effective changes in the environment,” he said. 


Nomafu Somniso, 35, from Vryheid in Kwazulu-Natal dedicates her time in the nursery collecting seedlings and mixing compost and soil to start preparing to transplant trees into bigger bags.  


She said she wishes to effectively propagate plants that will be of the perfect quality to be planted and have a positive impact on the forest. 


“I learnt that the smallest amount of change in the way one preserves the environment can have a huge impact in nature conservation,” he said. 








The Wild Bird Trust was founded in South Africa in 2009 by Dr Rutledge “Steve” Boyes with the primary objective of keeping birds safe in the wild by securing critical habitat for the benefit of ecosystems, wildlife and people in perpetuity. The initial project was the Cape Parrot Project, based in Hogsback, where Dr Boyes lived while he undertook his research on these parrots. Since then, the Wild Bird Trust has grown to accommodate more projects and in 2014, the Okavango Wilderness Project was launched. This is a multi-year collaboration agreement with the National Geographic Society becoming the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project, with a commitment to help conserve the iconic Okavango Delta by protecting the headwaters in Angola upon which it depends. 



The Cape Parrot is South Africa’s only endemic parrot. The species is endangered due to destruction and degradation of their forest habitat. The Cape Parrot Project aims to conserve the Cape Parrot through research and habitat restoration efforts, with community involvement being viewed as an integral part of our future success. BirdLife South Africa has named the Cape Parrot “2023 Bird of the Year” and has created beautiful material to raise awareness and increase knowledge about the Cape Parrot. For more information: