Rwanda has the highest number of bird species per square kilometers in Africa, experts have discovered.
With this endowment, On The Frontier Group (OTF) and stakeholders in the tourism industry plan to carryout a market research on the potential of birding tourism in Rwanda.
The findings will help government and stakeholders plan to position the country as a leading bird watching destination.
Preliminary studies carried out by OTF, an American consultancy firm working with the government of Rwanda on several projects geared towards enhancing export competitiveness suggest that Rwanda is home of million birds.
OTF says Rwanda is a great destination for birding as her natural endowments hugely favour avitourism. The country has a total of over 650 bird species, 44 of which are endemic to the Albertine Rift region. Among these bird species, are 4 species which cannot be found anywhere else in the world, but in Rwanda. The New Times could not establish the names of these species.
The country is home to the shoebill which is the most sought after bird specie in the world, as it is the only surviving bird in its family.
The country has the potential to win in birding based on the concentration of birds and the accessibility of these birds. "Birders are achievement driven people. The more birds they see during their birding expeditions the more attractive the destination," a statement from OTF reads in part.
OTF says birding has vast revenue potential. Quoting Birdlife International, the group says there are approximately 7 million birders participating in birding worldwide. These people spend over $7m (Frw3.82b) in the countries they visit annually. Birding is reported to be the fastest growing outdoor activity in the United States and in the UK. More than one million people belong to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds—Birdlife’s partner in the UK. Closer home, The Tourism Trust Fund of Kenya seeing the potential benefits of avitourism in the region, launched a new birding tourism product that it will fund at a total value of $314,000 (about Frw171.5 million)
Tapping bird revenue
"A market research to identify specific market needs, international birders have in relation to their birding expectations in Rwanda will be carried out," the statement reads further.
OTF also suggested that in order to make Rwanda a first class birding destination, higher capital investments are needed. This, according to OTF will make Rwanda compete on a comparative advantage model. Citing Uganda as success story and a force to reckon with when it comes to birding in the region, OTF says Uganda invested heavily in the industry to produce the best birding guides and a birding culture that is aggressively promoted through local birding clubs. "Bird viewing stations, birding trails, checklists and birding literature contribute to Uganda’s excellent birding experience. As opposed to Rwanda, Uganda has direct air flights to birding mass markets and especially UK," the statement further reads.