In a drive to promote domestic avi-tourism in Uganda, NatureUganda in collaboration with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), USAID-Tourism for Biodiversity project and other stakeholders organised the Big Birding Day (BBD) 2013 events under the theme “Connecting People to Birds and Nature”and subtheme “Birding; Our Livelihoods, Our Economy” aimed at promoting birding in Uganda and conservation at large. Our target is to increase bird watchers to 50,000 in the next two years, with a net increase of US$25 million income generated from the tourism industry.
The Big Birding Day 2013 events started with a launch during a public talk on 18th October at the Uganda Museum. It was officiated by Ms Aulo Mbabazi Mary Grace, the Commissioner, and tourism development at Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities who pledged full support from the ministry towards NatureUganda in promoting tourism in the country. The guest Speaker, Mr. Raymond Engena, the director for Tourism and Business partnership at the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), mentioned that UWA has pledged to fully support 5 foreigners who will visit Uganda specifically to participate in the BBD 2014. He promised that starting January 2014, UWA is going to reduce on charges paid by foreigners to the National Parks and Forest reserves from US$ 100 to US$ 30.
The launch was followed by the actual 24hr-birding exercise on 19th October in all parts of the country including National Parks, Wildlife reserves, Important Bird Areas, Ramsar sites, Forest reserves, areas around Kampala and many other sites.
Free entry for all participants bird watching on this day was granted in all National Parks, Wildlife Reserves and Forest Reserves by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and National Forest Authority (NFA). He emphasized that adults should take the sole responsibility of educating the young generation about birds and nature. He thanked NatureUganda and other partners for contributing towards the Big Birding Day.
Results from the birding exercise were announced during the climax of the BBD events, that is, at the Big Birding Festival on 26th October held at Kitante Primary School play Grounds. To a surprise of many, Mt. Elgon National Park was victor with 275 recorded bird species. This is the highest number of bird species recorded since the BBD event started in 2009. The perennial winners and favourites, Queen Elizabeth National Park, came in at shocking 3rd position.
There were 32 teams that participated in this years’ birding exercise. It compromised of 487 participants who traversed 73 birding sites across the country in both protected and non-protected areas.
As part of the NU’s explorer programme which is intended produce a cadre of young nature lovers among Ugandan schools, different schools were invited to attend the Big Birding Festival. The children were involved in an art competition where they illustrated how they think birds can be helped by humans. The schools included;
- Railway’s Primary School, Nsambya
- St. Joseph Primay School, Maya
- Mugongo Primary School, Maya
- Kalinabiri Secondary School, Ntinda
- Greenhill Academy, Kibuli
- St. Joseph’s Girls Secondary School, Nsambya
- Rubaga Girls’ Secondary School, Rubaga
The participating schools were given awards (framed photos) by Mr. Raymond Engena, Uganda Wildlife Authority for participating in the Big Birding Day 2013.
NatureUganda together with the organising committee would like to especially thank Uganda Wildlife Authority for the support given during the preparation of the BBD 2013 that made this year's events successful and for supporting conservation and tourism promotion in the country.
We also recognise the sponsors of the Big Birding Day 2013 for the financial support towards the BBD 2013. These include Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Pride Microfinance Ltd and Rwenzori Bottling Company. Special thanks also go out to Guide to Uganda, Diary of a Mzungu, USAID-Tourism for Biodiversity project, National Forest Authority (NFA) and Uganda Community Tourism Association (UCOTA) for the support rendered towards BBD 2013.