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Uganda to organise bird fair

By Vision Reporter

Added 25th May 2009 03:00 AM

UGANDA is to organise an annual fair for local and international bird-watchers to promote the country as a birding destination.

UGANDA is to organise an annual fair for local and international bird-watchers to promote the country as a birding destination.

By Gerald Tenywa,

UGANDA is to organise an annual fair for local and international bird-watchers to promote the country as a birding destination.

Speaking at the launch of the Uganda Big Birding Day at Mabira Forest Eco-lodge over the weekend, environment state minister Jessica Eriyo said each bird-watcher could spend up to $5,000.

Eriyo said bird-watchers were known to stay in the country longer and spend more.

“It is possible to have more than a million people visiting the protected areas because birding is not as restrictive as gorilla tracking,” she noted.

Eriyo said bird-watching was started 100 years ago by the founders of the East African Nature History Society, which evolved into Nature Uganda.

Eriyo and the bird watchers signed a birding chart and planted trees at the Eco-lodge.

Stephen Masaba, a Uganda wildlife authority official, said Uganda, despite covering only 0.2% of the earth surface, was blessed with 11% of the global bird population.

“Uganda has 50% of Africa’s bird population. We also have 70% of the bird population in eastern Africa,” said Masaba.

He said Mabira forest was a habitat for 280 bird species and some of them, like the Nahan Francolin, were considered to be among the rarest birds in the world.

Guests from the private sector, tour operators and the Uganda Bird Guides Club attended the launch.

A total of 76 bird watchers from Gulu district, 67 from Mbarara, 56 in Masaka and Mbale were on a look-out for the wattled crane.

The wattled crane, which originates from southern Africa and Ethiopia, was for the first time seen in Uganda a month ago.

The executive director of Nature Uganda, Achilles Byaruhanga, warned that some of the species were threatened with extinction because of the rampant destruction of their habitats.

Byaruhanga explained that the population of the crested cranes was estimated to be 100,000 about 40 years ago, but is now less than 10,000.

“This means that 90% of the crane population has perished in the last 40 years,” he noted.

“It will be a shame if we lose the national symbol.”

Uganda to organise bird fair

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