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Sakhamuzi Mhlongo - The Green Barbet Tracker

Updated: Oct 1, 2020

In August 2017, I had the opportunity to attend the Mtunzini Birding weekend in Zululand, KZN. This is a weekend when a group of birders from all over gets together in the little town on Mtunzini to find the ‘specials’ that the town has to offer. This is a weekend that I highly recommend that if you have the chance that you need to get there.

One of the highlights of the weekend was a fantastic bird guide by the name of Sakhamuzi. You encounter people on a daily basis that do their jobs well, but at times you encounter someone who does not merely do a job for a paycheck, but I truly passionate about it, Sakhamuzi is one such person.

On Saturday afternoon we went for a walk around the town to see what birds were on show, as we walked in conditions that didn’t lend themselves to good birding (in the morning we had been lucky enough to see the Mangrove Kingfisher at Umlalazi Nature Reserve), Sakhamuzi was able to point out birds and their calls that truly made the day come alive. As we came through the forest region he was able to see and point out, much to the group's delight, a Spotted Ground Thrush. The bird was well hidden low in the coastal forest undergrowth, this is where having an experienced guide is a huge help.

On the walk on as we came around a corner near right on top of a telephone post we had an amazing sighting of a Southern Banded Snake Eagle, as we walked we saw some Palm-nut Vultures in the distance. The first day of birding was amazing with another day lying ahead.

On the Sunday morning we woke up with much better conditions. This was the day that we were heading out to Ongoye Forrest, just outside Mtunzini, to search for the elusive Green Barbet. On the drive up we stopped in a rocky area and got to see the Striped Pipit. When we got Ongoye we walked around and listened and looked for the Green Barbet. We got to see a great sighting of a Narina Trogan, but the Green Barbet just would not show itself. Sakhamuzi did not give up and on the way back after enjoying a Brown Scrub Robin sighting, we were called off the path and there it was in all its glory, a few Green Barbets feeding alongside White-eared Barbets. We had seen this elusive little bird and what an amazing sighting it was.

What I loved about Sakhamuzi is that he did not give up, he kept on looking until he found the bird! Like I said, it is far more that a job, he ‘oozes’ passion!

​If you are looking for a great guide for the Mtunzini/Zululand area I highly recommend Sakhamuzi, he really has a knack for finding the specials that are in the area.

​Contact details Sakhamuzi Mhlongo 083 4362252


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