Partners in Flight

Skorpion Zinc specially creates a bird pond to combat bird mortality in the vicinity of its refinery

Bird Pond case study
  • Bird Pond case study
  • Basanti Kisan
  • Takondwa Phiri
  • Shahnaaz Hussain
  • Nyawa Tembo
  • Mandakini Patel
  • Tassie Devil
In 2006, Environment Section of the Skorpion Zinc Refinery noticed an increase in bird mortalities around the refinery's lined evaporation ponds and the earthen ponds. Preliminary internal assessments suspected that birds were consuming Refinery process wastewater, which led the unit to appoint an independent consultant EcoMonitor to carry out a detailed investigation on the cause of mortalities between October 2006 to March 2007. EcoMonitor carried out autopsies on dead birds and also conducted assessment of wastewater, sediments, soil, and vegetation samples for a number of metals. The Study confirmed Skorpion Zinc's fear that the deaths were primarily a result of acid burns and secondarily due to metal poisoning.

We realised that Skorpion Zinc is located within a region which supports a number of plant species absolutely unique to this area. With EcoMonitor assessment corroborating what we had suspected we knew there was an urgent need to mitigate the problem of bird mortalities.

We decided that the best way forward was to create an alternative clean water artificial wetland, away from the Refinery, administration building as well as any human disturbance. We believed this wetland would attract the birds and they would move away from the refinery ponds.

To create the ambience of a natural wetland, no heavy earth movement work was done at site. The pond was designed in a way that the outside edge of the pond is shallow and nearly flat and the deepest part is 1 meter deep. In 2009 the wetland was ready to receive its first batch of visitors.

The wetland gets water from our sewage plant where it is processed and clean water is pumped into the pond. The site also has been abundantly enriched with typical riparian wetland vegetative plants which help in biofiltering treated sewage effluent water which is being discharged into the pond.

The inflow of water is channeled into the pond via a length of rock covered stream to prevent undue erosion of the surface. The water quality is monitored on a monthly basis to ensure that effluent water complies with disposal permit requirements. Any potential ground water contamination is monitored by sampling a groundwater borehole which is located approximately 15m western side of the sewage plant.

Today the wetland is a bio-diversity hotspot. Since its construction no further bird mortalities have been recorded anywhere close to the unit. The pond has not just successfully managed to attract birds from around the Refinery but has also become a bird watchers delight.