ANALYSING THE JUST CONCLUDED AFRICAN BIRDING EXPO IN UGANDA
Like its described on their website, the African birding expo (ABE) is one of its kind on the African continent as it has managed to expose Uganda as a birding destination on the African continent including all the stakeholders involved like the hotels, bird guides, tour operator’s conservation areas especially the Important Birding Areas (IBA’s), not forgetting the communities involved in conservation mostly those that enabled the co-existence of wildlife & humans.
As much as I didn’t have the opportunity to exhibit on this particular Birding expo (2019), due official duties (of course guiding duties) … I have been briefed of how the hosted buyers were very impressed and astonished on how Uganda is gifted by nature, blessed with all these endemic birds and particular Andrew J. Sebastian from the Asia Birding Expo was amazed on how almost every site guide right from game rangers was very good at their birds and were not just gatekeepers asking for entry receipts.
If you look at Uganda, its gifted with 1,080 bird species, of this 11% of the global bird diversity and is regarded as Africa’s best birding destination for ‘birders’ and other nature enthusiasts. With many bird species concentrated in large protected wilderness areas, a bird-watching trip to Uganda is the most leisurely in the east and central tropical bird-watching destinations. Uganda has more bird species per square kilometre than any other country in Africa. Uganda, the size of the UK, boasts of over 1080 species. This is about 50% of the bird species that can be found in the whole of Africa. This diversity is attributed to its variety of habitats, which include arid, semi-dessert, savannahs, lowland and montane rainforests, wetlands, volcanoes and an Afro-alpine zone.
Well with all the above opportunities what puzzle’s me is why is Uganda still receiving a low turn over on tourists who wish to visit this “pearl of Africa” despite the above gold it has? While each spring (May), the central park in New York collects almost 80% of the birders in New York city alone per year. Migration keeps birders coming back for warblers and other species stopping to refuel. People willing to spend the whole day sweeping through the park and targeting sightings of rare birds occasionally top 100 species, out of these spotted, there may be only 2-3 new species compared to what is spotted & recorded each year. Though this takes a concerted effort.
If a small designated area like the Central Park located in Manhattan, New York City between the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side. Central Park can receive 80% of New York birders in May (spring) alone, how can a country gifted by nature, the pearl of Africa with 1,080 bird species increase her number of visitors (birder watchers) annually? We believe with all the endemics Uganda has, through continuous conservation awareness, expos etc. would increase the number of bird watchers in Uganda.
AS A TOURISM ENTHUSIAST WHAT’S YOUR SAY?