Uganda Declared Top Birders’ Destination in Africa for 2013
Uganda has 34 key bird viewing points in wetlands, water bodies, wildlife reserves, national parks and forest reserves. Common bird species include shoebills, herons, eagles, blue throated rollers, red headed malimbe, scaly breaste illadopis, titi hylia, giant king fisher, scaly francolin among others.
If you are looking to a birding safari in Uganda, there are about 70 professional and well-equipped guides who can whistle and call birds at a given point, identify them and take you to their destination under their umbrella body Uganda Safari Guides Association (USGA)
Statistics from Minim show that Tourism contributed 9.0 percent of Uganda’s GDP, US$ 805 million foreign exchange earnings from 1.2million visitors in 2011. The tourism accolades never stop coming for Uganda. On top of being voted Best Tourist Destination for 2012, Uganda was declared Africa’s Preffered Birding Destination in October after Africa Bird Club voted two of Uganda’s birding sites among the top 10 birders’ destinations in Africa.
Bwindi Forest, the best place for gorilla safaris in Africa was, actually, voted the best birding site in Africa with Murchison coming in at no. 9 – and with over 1050 bird species within its borders, Uganda sits comfortably among the best birding
destinations in the whole world.
Birding is one of the most important tourist activities in the world garnering chunks of money for countries that have given it priority.
To ensure that Uganda stays in the international tourism limelight, the ministry of tourism and other stakeholders have declared 2013/2014 the “Year of Birding” in Uganda.
The minister of tourism, wildlife and antiquities Ms Maria Mutagamba did the declaration at Kasenge Resort Beach in Mukono on Saturday.
“As we begin our journey through our next 50 years of Independence allow me declare Uganda as the favourite birding destination for 2013/2014,” said an evidently joyful Mutagamba.
This declaration comes weeks after Birdlife International, a global program on conservation and protection of birds and their habitants, alongside Nature Uganda announced that there are 34 important bird areas in Uganda with diverse bird species that qualify Uganda to be the leading birding destination on the continent.
Mutagamba said that Uganda has been priding in recent accolades like the one of Lonely Planet which was influenced by the iconic Mountain Gorillas but birds will give Uganda even new dimensions and more options to shine on international tourism market.
The minister said the two accolades provide an important avenue and platform for showcasing Uganda’s rich bird diversity that shows the country’s endowment of having 1056 bird species that account for 10 percent of the globe’s total bird species and 50 percent of Africa’s bird species population.
Uganda Tourism Board Executive Director Cuthbert Baguma said that it’s now very important to start promoting the country as a major birders’ destination.
“This country is for all Ugandans that calls for patriotism by positively promoting the country in order not to kill the thriving tourism industry,” he said. He said they want to form a crisis management committee responsible for responding to all negative publicity that has smeared the country’s image, especially on the relentless Ebola and Marburg cases.
“There needs to be a committee which counters these negative and – most of the times – exaggerated stories and show people that things are under control,” added Baguma. “And they’re.”
Mr Hebert Byaruhanga, the chairman Uganda Safari Guides Association (USAGA) said that Uganda beats many African countries in having rare bird species that can bring in money but the business hasn’t been tapped into.
He said that despite being a land-locked country, Uganda has over 1000 bird species including migratory birds which normally flock ocean coasts.
He also emphasized the fact that birding needs as much promotion as gorilla tracking. “A tourist going on a gorilla trek may only spend 2 to 3 days leaving only US$500 for a gorilla permit and maybe some more little dollars but a tourist interested in birding will spend between 14 to 21 days and they spend over $5000 and that should be simple mathematics of what is more important,” he said.
The guides also said that usually tourists who come in for birding also do gorilla tracking yet those who come to see the primates are specific.