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THE DEVELOPMENT OF SIX BIRDING ROUTES FOR THE WESTERN CAPE PROVINCE


PROJECT SUMMARY: AN APPEAL TO POTENTIAL FUNDERS

(A comprehensive project proposal in hard copy or in electronic format could be forwarded to potential funders upon request. Presentations could also be done at short notice.)

Avitourism (tourism aimed at experiencing birds in their natural habitat) is internationally regarded as the fastest growing ecotourism segment. The Avitourism division of BirdLife South Africa has gained tremendous experience in this field and several birding routes have been established in South Africa. The Limpopo Birding Route already contributes R40 million and the Zululand Birding Route R15 million to their respective regional economies. More significantly though, local bird guides from members of previously disadvantaged communities are trained by BLSA and the services presented by these individuals have now become the cornerstone of the birding route experience. BirdLife Travel also develops individually tailored itineraries for the visitor and professionally produced products such as websites, brochures, checklists and selected Birder Friendly Establishments (BFE's) further enhance the discerning avitourist's experience.

The Western Cape province of South Africa is internationally renowed as a tourist destination think of the Cape Floral Kingdom, spectacular land- and seascapes, acclaimed wines, whale watching, colourful peoples, the list just goes on. One of the province's great secrets is about to be revealed: the Cape hosts a diverse range of sought after endemic bird species, such as the Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Victorin's Warbler, Protea Seedeater and many more. Further to this, several underutilised and ecologically varied birding destinations such as De Hoop nature reserve, the Langebaan lagoon, Nature's Valley and the Tsitsikama National Park, the Karoo National Park and many more need to be properly exposed to a rapidly growing bird-watching fraternity. Several exciting birding products already exist: the Cape pelagic birding cruises is regarded as of the best in the world, the African Penguin colony at the Boulders near Simon's Town needs no introduction and the migratory waders visiting the Langebaan lagoon are legendary.

The purpose of the project proposed herewith is to develop a network of birding routes for the Western Cape before the soccer world cup of 2010. These birding routes will be developed for the West Coast, the Overberg, the Winelands, Garden Route and Little Karoo (Eden), the Cape Peninsula and the Great Karoo. The routes will be developed in a collaborative and participatory manner, utilising local and regional knowledge and insight and merging this with the skills and experience of the BLSA Avitourism team. Each birding route will have its own project steering committee and at least 10 local bird guides will be trained and mentored on an on-going basis to service visitors to the route. The local and regional Tourism associations will be relied on heavily and resource material such as websites, brochures, checklists and posters will be developed with the particular circumstances of each birding route in mind. Basic uniform design features will be applied to the resource material though to facilitate meaningful continuity on Provincial and National levels through BLSA's Avitourism division. A further critical aim of the project will be to contribute towards the consolidation of the conservation status of Important Bird Areas (IBA's) along each birding route by increasing its visibility within the public and general tourist domain.

This proposal follows the following logical order that the reader could use if certain sections are not to be read:

  • Avitourism, both within an international sense and as it could apply to the Western Cape province, is reviewed briefly;
  • The current situation relating to birding along the West Coast and the Overberg is discussed, as these are the first two of the six proposed routes that will be developed;
  • The economic value of avitourism is introduced and further illustrated through appendix 2;
  • The same is then done with the role that local bird guide training plays in the development of birding routes (See appendices 4 and 5);
  • The projects aims, envisaged outcomes and the appropriate experience of the project team is then discussed;
  • The project's marketing plan is then followed by the implementation plan and time frame;
  • The budget focuses on an overall infrastructural plan for the province, followed by a detailed budget for each one of the six seperate birding routes;

The other appendices focus on:

  • An organisational description of BirdLife South Africa is attached as appendix 1;
  • Tasks already completed by the proposed project team in the West Coast and the Overberg is mentioned in appendix 3;
  • Finally, the minutes of the first steering committee meeting held for the West Coast is included as appendix 6. This will serve as a model framework for the development of steering committees in the other six proposed birding routes of the Western Cape province.

Several sections of the project will be financed through independent sources, and the requested funding from the funding agency can be negotiated. As far as possible, finance for most of the training and resource material will be sourced from within the different regions, thus contributing towards the long-term sustainability of the birding routes.