Accompanied by superb photographs, this ground-breaking book is the first practical field guide to record the Zulu names of bird species commonly found in KwaZulu-Natal. Where one name was previously used to describe a number of birds belonging to the same genus (i.e. ukhozi for most eagles), the need existed to give species specific names.
The authors hope this book will be used to inspire a greater interest, awareness and protection of the avifaunal heritage of KwaZulu-Natal. It is vital for the heritage of all South Africans that these names are recorded and made widely available. Noleen Turner, a passionate birder and honorary research professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, in collaboration with Prof Adrian Koopman and Roger Porter, led this seven-year project, together with 18 expert Zulu bird guides from various parts of KwaZulu-Natal.
The recording, derivation and crafting of these names has been a lengthy but fascinating process. Turner notes that the project has included not only the consideration of biodiversity management, but also the pursuit of social ecology, the long neglected but crucial ‘people’s’ aspect of conservation. She said when it came to Zulu names for birds, they had to fill in the gaps, and of the 550 species analysed, some were confirmation of well-known names, such as inkazwi for the fish eagle; some were selected from the most commonly known names such as inkankane for the hadeda ibis. Some names were redirected: for example, the name for the Brown-headed Kingfisher indwazela became the generic name for all kingfishers (ndwaza referring to the motionless position while waiting for prey).
Other new names were coined based on appearance, calls, behaviour and distribution such as isankawu (the bird whose call sounds like a vervet monkey) for the Southern Pochard, or umacutha derived from the Zulu word cutha (meaning to draw the body tense) as the generic name for herons, which perfectly describes the bird’s behaviour before it lunges at its prey.
Adrian Koopman is an Emeritus Professor of Zulu at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. His research interests during his academic career have been primarily in onomastics, and he is the author of the 2002 Zulu Names (which includes a chapter on Zulu bird names), the 2015 Zulu Plant Names, and the 2019 Zulu Bird Names and Bird Lore, published by the University of KwaZulu-Natal Press. His over 65 articles and chapters in academic journals and books include the 1990 Ornimatopoeia: Song Reference in English, Afrikaans and Zulu Bird Names.
Roger Porter has had a life-long interest in birds and has travelled extensively on bird trips in Africa, Madagascar, India and Antarctica. He has been a wildlife ecologist and conservation planner for nearly 39 years in the Natal Parks Board and KZN Wildlife. He produced the nomination dossiers for the UNESCO World Heritage inscription of iSimangaliso Wetland Park, and the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Mountains, and has been intimately involved in certain African World Heritage listings.
Noleen Turner retired after 32 years' service from the African Languages Department at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban. She is currently an Honorary Research Professor at the same institution. Her areas of research include second language (Zulu) teaching, Zulu oral studies, onomastics and humour studies. She has published over 40 accredited articles in local and overseas journals. A keen birder, she is the original motivator of the Zulu Bird Names Project described in this book.
"An outstanding and exceptionally useful book"
– Mark Anderson, CEO BirdLife South Africa