Uganda Wildlife Authority ~ Big National Birding Day in Uganda: Save the dates

Posted October 19, 2012 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Events ~ 8,702 views


THE UGANDA BIG BIRDING DAY 2012 – PRESS RELEASE ~ A series of fun conservation events: launch, race and Festival ~ THEME: Birding@50: Saving the Crane, our national symbol

This national birding day will combine avian (bird) conservation with promotion of birding as a tourism activity in Uganda. It will be a “big birding race” involving bird-watching groups in all parts of the country. These groups will be led by experienced bird guides and will aim to record as many bird species as possible in a single 24 hour period in our biodiverse country, Uganda.

The event will also use bird watching to help bridge the information gap between bird conservation and tourism, linking bird watchers, tourism promoters, conservationists and policy makers. We hope it will also be a fun free event for the family!

The theme of Big Birding Day is “connecting birds with people and nature.” 2012’s theme is “Uganda@50: Saving the Grey Crowned Crane.”

The national launch of this annual birding event will be at the Uganda Museum, Friday October 19th starting at 3:30 pm. Other events will be organized by NatureUganda branches in the Universities of Mbale, Gulu and Mbarara. The BBD race will take place the following day, Saturday October 20th. NatureUganda has 47 teams registered so far, across the country. More teams are registering, making this the biggest BBD ever!

Free entry for all participants bird watching in National Parks, Wildlife Reserves and Forest Reserves on this day has been granted by UWA and NFA.

The results of the BBD race will be announced during the Big Birding festival on Saturday 27th October 2012 at Entebbe Botanic Gardens, where the French Ambassador to Uganda is expected to be the Guest of Honour. The general public is invited to all these free events especially the festival. Here the day will start with guided bird walks from 7 am. The entertainment will start at 1pm and there will be face painting, live music and a chance to learn more about birds and birding, avian tourism, as well as organisers of the event. BBD will also be the occasion of the national launch of the Uganda Bird Checklist, an indispensable guide for birders, created byNatureUganda with the support of USAID.

Birding@50 focuses on the plight of Uganda’s national symbol, the Grey Crowned Crane.

While the country is celebrating 50 years of independence, Uganda’s national symbol is in a crisis. The Grey Crowned Crane is under serious threat as her wetlands habitats are polluted, eroded, degraded and built upon. Human development is swallowing up the wetlands. Left unchallenged, the crane will not survive, and it is estimated that the grey crowned crane will be extinct in Uganda within just 20 years.

Uganda is leading the campaign to save the Grey Crowned Crane. We urge individuals and the authorities to protect the wetlands. We need people to ask themselves, when did you last see a young or adult Crane? Do you see them as often now as you did when you were a child? It is no coincidence that as humans encroach upon the wetlands, the number of Cranes has plummeted across the country.

What you can do to help protect the Crane
Please see attached document “Save the Crane” for information about this beautiful species and a list of specific actions that individuals and organizations can take to protect this iconic bird.

The Big Birding Day events are organized by NatureUganda in collaboration with Uganda Wildlife Authority and other partners including Association of Uganda Tour Operators, National Forestry Authority, Uganda Tourism Board, Uganda Community Tourism Association, USAGA and Uganda Bird Guides Club. Sponsors include; USAID, SMS Media, Entebbe NARO PGRC (Botanic Gardens), the Uganda Museum, GeoLodges, Wild Frontiers, Diary of a Muzungu, Guide2Uganda, SpringAlive, Mitsubishi Corporation fund for Europe and Africa.

Uganda is regarded as Africa’s best birding destination for ‘birders’ and other nature enthusiasts. With species of birds from a diversity of habitats, mainly in large well 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. Roughly the same size as the UK, Uganda can boast a national list of about 1050 species (Uganda Bird Atlas by Carswell et al, 2005). This figure represents 47% of the bird species that can be found in the whole of Africa. The key to Uganda’s diversity is its variety of habitats, which include arid, semi-dessert, savannahs, lowland and montane rainforests, wetlands, volcanoes and an Afro-alpine zone. It would be interesting to know how many species out of the total country list could be recorded in one day if there were birding teams in all these habitat types on Big Birding Day.

The importance of Birds
Birds are an important part of our ecosystems. They are universal, penetrating the remotest deserts, oceans and mountains on earth. They are numerous, widely distributed, easily observed and form a vital part of our natural heritage.

Despite the large number of birds in Uganda, very few Ugandans are aware of this rich diversity present in this country. For this reason NatureUganda would like to improve this awareness through the “Uganda Big Birding Day” and also to promote avi-conservation and avi-tourism.

Avi-tourism is a recreational activity done by tourists and is commonly known as bird watching or birding. This ecotourism activity contributes significantly to conservation as well as economic growth. Tourism is one of the most important sectors in developing our economy as it is a major source of foreign exchange earnings. In South Africa, for example, avi-tourism is proving to be one of BirdLife’s most powerful conservation tools. Tourism has outperformed all other sectors in South Africa’s economy, with two popular ‘Birding-routes’ generating an estimated US$6.4 million annually for local people.

Although avi-tourism is developing in Uganda, it is mainly by tourists and very few locals. This calls for more training of guides and awareness campaigns on the tourism potential of the country in order to promote tourism, including domestic tourism. For this reason, we hope that the Uganda Big Birding Day will create more awareness.

How the birding will be organised
Everyone in the country is encouraged to go out birding on Big Birding Day, Saturday 20th October.
The BBD  event will include guided nature walks throughout the country. We shall have expert ornithologists and bird guides from among NatureUganda membership and Uganda Bird Guides Club (UBGC) who will lead participants at various locations to take part in the birding race. The event will be a 24 hour bird watching contest throughout the country, from midnight to midnight the following day.

Each group in the race must have at least 2 members who are experienced bird watchers to confirm the species identification. Participants can choose birding sites in any part of the country. However, NatureUganda has identified a number of special sites which must be covered. These sites were chosen as representative of the different vegetation types in Uganda. All birds seen and/or heard calling within these sites will be recorded.

A tally centre will be set up at NatureUganda to receive and check all records from participating teams. These results will then be announced at the Big Birding Festival on Saturday 27th October, the climax of the events. It will begin with a morning bird walk around Entebbe Botanic Gardens. Members, the general public and invited Guests of Honour will later assemble for a ceremony where there will be presentations and announcements of the results of the BBD race. Recognition will be made to the sponsors of all the events and the best birding teams.

The proposed sites for birding on the BBD include;
Bwindi Impenetrable NP, Mgahinga Gorilla NP, Kibale NP, Rwenzori Mountains NP, Tooro Semliki WR, Semiliki NP, Katonga WR, Kidepo Valley NP, Lake Mburo NP, Mt. Elgon NP, Murchison Falls NP, Queen Elizabeth NP, Kyambura WR- QENP, Ishasha- QENP, Budongo FR, Kasohya Kitomi FR, Echuya FR, Mabamba/ Makanaga Bays, Mabira FR, Lutembe Bay, Kumbu Forest -Nabajjuzi Masaka, Musambwa Islands, Lakes Bisina & Opeta, Mt. Otzi CFR, Mt. Kei CFR, Mt. Moroto CFR, Gulu University, Mbale/ Kibimba, Entebbe Peninsula, Kawanda-Namulonge-(Gayaza RD), MUST- Mbarara, Park Alexander, Makerere  University, Bahai Temple, Rwenzori Bottling Co. Namanve

We invite everyone to come and enjoy the beauty of Birds!
All partners, NatureUganda members, ministers, members of Parliament and the general public are called upon to participate in this National event. Please note that those intending to travel to National parks or other sites need to make their private arrangements for travel and accommodation. Free transport is available from Kampala to the Festival in Entebbe but this must be booked in advance with NatureUganda.

To participate in the BBD race, please register with NatureUganda at their office on Plot 83 Tufnell Drive, Kamwokya or at their website or at their branches at the Universities in Gulu, Mbarara and Mbale and at all National Parks and Wildlife Reserves.

NatureUganda 0414 540719
UWA 0414 355000

NatureUganda is a membership-based organisation that would not exist without your support, but there is so much more that we can do together to conserve Uganda’s heritage. Contact us to become a corporate member and help us conserve our natural heritage.

Follow NatureUganda on Twitter @NatureUganda
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Achilles Byaruhanga 0772522727 
Dianah Nalwanga 0772929626 
Phionah  Mwesige 
Charlotte Beauvoisin 0774802319 

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.



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