KIGALI - The past weekend saw the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) Tourism and Conservation showcase Rwanda as a birdwatching destination, at this year’s UK birdfair.
An RDB communiqué notes that: “visitors at this year’s British Birdfair in Rutland discovered the wonders of Rwanda’s birds, from the Great Blue Turaco to the most sought after Shoebill stork”.
Emmanuel Werabe, the RDB Executive Director of Tourism was in the UK and talked of the importance of representing the country at an event considered as the world’s most bird watching event.
“We’re excited to have traveled to the UK to showcase our country’s unique birdlife. Whether you’re a seasoned bird watcher, an intrepid mountaineer or a curious culture seeker, there really is something for everyone in Rwanda,” Werabe is quoted in the statement.
“We were able to meet birdwatchers that are keen to expand their horizons and tour operators who will add Rwanda onto their circuits”.
According to the RDB Tourism and Conservation, it is projected that by 2012, Rwanda will generate 11,000,000 USD from “birding”.
Annette Mbabazi, the Tourism and Conservation Public Relations Officer also says a total of RWF 2,209,856 was recorded in 2008, “from bird watching only” while in the same year, 10,238 visitors from UK were recorded.
In the first six months of this year, 4,622 visitors have been received.
“We have just started the awareness campaign and in July this year, we invited a team of bird authors, tourists and bird watching media to Rwanda who will help us in the promotion of their experience while in Rwanda,” says Mbabazi.
Though well-known for other big game and primates, including the mountain gorillas, Rwanda is home to over 670 bird species, 44 of which are “endemic species” only found here.
The country’s hot spots for bird watching in clude; Nyungwe forest, Akagera Park, Volcanoes National Parks, Cyamudongo Forest, Buhanga Eco-park, Rugezi Swamp, Nyabarongo Wetlands, Akanyaru Wetlands and Lake Kivu Islands.
Akagera National Park is particularly home to the Shoebill Stork and the rare ring-necked Francolin while the Great Blue Turaco is found in the west of the country.
According to RDB, the African Bird Club describes Nyungwe National Park as “the only place in Africa where the Red-collared Mountain Babbler can be seen in safety.”