NatureUganda in collaboration with USAID STAR-Uganda (Sustainable Tourism in the Albertine Rift), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), Uganda Community Tourism Association (UCOTA), National Forest Authority (NFA), Honorary Wardens in Uganda and Uganda Bird Guides Club organized a Big Birding Festival from 14th to 16th October 2010.
As part of celebrating 100 years of nature, NatureUganda organised the Uganda Big Birding Day on Saturday the 23rd of May 2009.
This was a national event that combined avian conservation with awareness and tourism promotion in Uganda.
It was a “big birding race” involving bird-watching groups in all parts of the country including National Parks, Forest Reserves and other Important Bird Areas. Because it was a race, the aim of each group was to try and record as many bird species as possible.
The winner of the race, Mr. Johnnie Kamugisha, was awarded at the Nature Gala Night, which was a corporate event also organized as part of the centenary celebrations.
These sites included; Bwindi Impenetrable NP, Kibimba Rice Scheme, Echuya FR, Kilak FR, Amuru-Gulu, Kasyoha Kitoni FR, Kidepo Valley NP, L. Mburo NP, Lutembe Bay, Mabamba, Mabira FR, Makerere University, Nabajjuzi Wetland, IUIU Mbale, Nyamitanga & Rwizi- Mbarara, Mt. Elgon and Nabugabo Wetland.
A total of 386 species were recorded in the 17 sites covered during the Uganda Big Birding Day 2009.
The highest number of species recorded by a group was 156 species in Buhoma- Bwindi Impenatrable NP, followed by Mabamba bay. Some of the significant species include the Wattled Crane that was recorded in Kibimba Rice Scheme Eastern Uganda, the Shoebill recorded in Mabamba and the Osprey in Kilak Forest Reserve, Gulu.
The National launch of the BBD took place at the Rain forest lodge, Mabira Forest Reserve. The Bird watching activity was launched by the Minister of State for Water and Environment Hon. Jessica Eriyo. After the birding was launched, participants went out in different parts of the Forest for the birding exercise.
They were divided into five birding groups, each led by an expert bird guide who guided them on particular trails within the Forest Reserve. A total of 96 species were recorded by all the groups in this forest. Other mini launches were held in Kasohya Kitomi Forest Reserve (KK) - Bushenyi, Masaka NU offices and the NU branches in the Universities of Mbale (IUIU), Mbarara and Gulu.
A number of recommendations were made;
- The BBD should be promoted as an annual National event so that the spirit of birding is kept alive in the country.
- A bird fare should be organized along side the BBD so that new entrants in the industry are identified and recognized
- All stakeholders in avian conservation and avian tourism should be involved in the BBD 2010
- The major loop hole in BBD 2009 was late planning especially in regards to fundraising. This should be avoided at all costs in the upcoming BBD events.
- Bird guides and/or participants should be facilitated to go and count birds other than relying totally on volunteers who may not really participate in important places. Many places were not counted like Queen Elizabeth National Park as the message did not reach the guides at the site.
- The launch should not be on the same day as the real birding so that ample time is given to all those who want to participate especially the organizers of the event.
- All sites should have experienced and trusted bird guides for better results