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.
Launch of the Big Birding day was on 14th October at the Uganda Museum where a presentation was made on birds and birding in Uganda.
It was clearly noted that tourism promotion in Uganda must be holistic but emphasizing products that Uganda has comparative advantage over other species. Birding is the probably the biggest of these products.
The big birding day is a birding race one innovation to raise awareness about birds in Uganda and promote birding as an important tourism product.The Birding on 15th October 2010 was a 24-hour exercise beginning at midnight on 15th October 2010 to midnight on 16th October 2010.
It involved teams recording birds in different parts of the country including all National Parks, Wildlife reserves, Important Bird Areas, Ramsar sites,Forest reserves and many other sites. Each team chose a site where they conducted the birding race but the organizers assigned some sites to ensure full coverage of important birding sites. The teams comprised at least 2 people (lead birder and a recorder) who have good knowledge of birding and many others who joined. Ach group was equipped with least a pair of Binoculars, a guide book and a note book. The teams recorded all the birds seen and heard calling in their sites at anytime of the day.
A tally centre was set up at NatureUganda to receive all records from all over Uganda. Our strategy was to work out the best itinerary that a tourist would take to record the highest number of species in Uganda.
We had over 50 groups covering 38 sites in all regions of Uganda. The teams included four community groups from Katwe, QENP, Ruboni in Rwenzori, Echuya Forest Reserve, Conserve Uganda in Katakwi, Mabamba bay, Kashoha Kitomi and Kyambura Reserve, Tourist teams, teams from NatureUganda, UWA including all national parks, UBGC members and other interested parties. The highest record came from Kampala-Entebbe area with 175 species. It was followed by Murchison falls national ark with 162, QENP with 160, Kidepo national park with 150 species, Mabamba Ramsar site with 138 species, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park 137, Mabira Forest Reserve with 136 species, then Bahai temple-Park Alexander 126, Kibale National Park 110, lake Mburo National Park 110. Together all groups recorded a total of 622 species.