Bird-watching enthusiasts invited to help shape SANParks’ avitourism

2018-06-12 07:35 - Kavitha Pillay
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Blue Waxbill bird.

Blue Waxbill. (Photo: iStock)

South Africa is renowned for its diverse wildlife and landscapes, and with this comes a plethora of birdlife that completes our country’s rich natural heritage.

It’s no wonder that avitourism, or avian tourism, which highlights birding activities and sights is prolific in South Africa.

According to The Spruce, avitourism is “one of the fastest growing types of environmental tourism or ecotourism”, allowing bird-lovers to attend events, festivals, trails, parks and locations where they can delight in observing hundreds of species of birds in their natural habitats.

SEE: New bird spotted in Karoo National Park

South African National Parks (SANParks) boasts as many fascinating species of birds as it does animals across its parks, all which live together harmoniously in unique ecosystems.

BirdLife South Africa says that “the bird watching industry is a growing economic force”, with the winged-creatures valued for economic, cultural, ethical and spiritual reasons, in addition to their major function in ensuring balanced ecosystems.

In light of bird watching playing a role in tourism, Tourism Research in Economics, Environs and Society (TREES) at the North-West University is conducting research to determine the demand and interest of avitourism in South Africa.

ALSO SEE: 4 tjirpy new additions to the Karoo National Park

The research aims, according to SANParks, are to identify the birding profile of visitors to national parks, the travel motives of birding visitors, the managerial factors that contribute to a memorable avitourism experience, and understanding the requirements of birding visitors.

“This information is valuable not only from an academic perspective but also for the conservation industry and stakeholders, to provide enhanced experiences to visitors, by enhancing the impact of the niche avi-spectrum,” says SANParks.

Take part in the survey

If you wish to participate, all information is kept confidential and minimal intrusion is made regarding personal information, advises the University.

The questionnaire takes about 15-20 minutes to complete and you may withdraw from completing it any time.

“If you feel this research touches upon a sensitive topic, please provide constructive feedback at the end of the questionnaire,” adds the University.

To answer the survey, click here.

MUST-SEE: Is this SA's best birding photography hot spot?

SANParks birding weekends + 5 additional bird species spotted at SA Park

SANParks hosts Birding Weekends annually between January and February. The event has grown to accommodate an average of 600 guests at 15 venues per year.

In addition to this, SANParks also hosts an annual National Parks Week, in which free entry is granted into most of the 21 national parks for day visitors, particularly for people from the local communities

This is a fantastic opportunity to explore the vast wildlife and birdlife at many parks across SA. The open weeks event takes place every year in September, so watch this space for updates on which parks will be open and when to visit.

ALSO SEE: You really shouldn't mess with an ostrich!

In the meantime, nature-lovers who visit Karoo National Park can delight in spotting 5 additional bird species welcomed to the Park in recent years.

Take a look at the birds below and get your binoculars out the next time you’re at this park to spot the feathered beauties.

Fiery-necked Nightjar:

Neddicky:

Blue Waxbill:

Black Cuckooshrike:

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European Cuckoo: