Bird-watching tourism (tourism aimed at experiencing birds in their natural habitat) is internationally regarded as the fastest growing ecotourism segment.
The greater Karoo and the Tanqua Karoo areas of the Western Cape province of South Africa are not internationally renowned as great tourist destinations.
The Karoo has however recently become known as a wonderful region for birding – this largely due to the work of Japie Claassen, a local tourist guide.
This area hosts a diverse range of sought after (often) endemic bird species, such as the Blue Crane, Karoo and Rufous-eared Warblers, a variety of coursers and
bustards, many “Little Brown Jobs” and many more. Further to this, several underutilized and ecologically varied birding destinations such as the Inverdoorn
and Kagga Kamma nature reserves, and the Karoo and Tanqua Karoo National Park and the areas around towns such as Sutherland, Murraysberg and Prince Alfred,
to mention a few, need to be properly exposed to a rapidly growing bird-watching fraternity. Several exciting birding products already exist and tourism product
owners in the region are increasingly beginning to understand the great birding potential in the area. This section of the provincial website is being launched
using surplus funds that have been generated through advertising over the last year on www.westerncapebirding.co.za
This website aims to give local, regional and international birders up-to-date information on bird-watching in the Karoo. Various bird-watching destinations in the
region will be highlighted, thus enabling visitors to this website to gain information on the specific area that they are interested in. Birding routes will be
developed in a collaborative and participatory manner, utilizing local and regional knowledge and insight. 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 for the Karoo as a whole. Basic uniform design features will be applied to the resource material though to facilitate
meaningful continuity on Provincial and National levels.
The “News” section of the website describes the latest developments concerning birds and birding in the Karoo and it is attempted to keep the information updated on a
daily basis. Emphasis is placed on top bird-watching destinations and regular trip reports by experienced bird-watchers and tour guides illustrate how visitors can
utilize available information when visiting birding destinations in the area and sometimes even further afield. Sightings of rare, vagrant and interesting birds are
also reported on and this forms a continual historical overview. Photo galleries are updated regularly, thus illustrating the phenomenal birding potential of the area.
The “Events” section of the website describes upcoming events on local and regional levels in an attempt to keep birders abreast with the latest “happenings”. The regional
focus falls on birding weekends, forthcoming outings and the activities of local bird clubs. On local levels the focus largely falls on bird club activities and individual
bird clubs can now even start their own mini website – refer to the BirdLife Overberg site under the “Clubs” on this website. The “Flight for Birders” course is being
used to get interested individuals and groupings involved in birding efforts in the region and details of these events are given on an ongoing basis. This service enables
birders to meaningfully plan their participation in a variety of exciting and stimulating birding events.
The conservation of birds and their habitats stands paramount in BirdLife South Africa's approach and therefore the “CONSERVATION” section of this website largely focuses
on critical issues within the Karoo. Threats to Important Bird Areas are highlighted on an ongoing basis and here developments that could pose a threat to the conservation
of birds and their habitats will be highlighted. The progress of environmental impact assessment studies will be regularly updated in view of giving visitors to the website
as comprehensive as possible an overview of the latest developments. Conservation issues facing species or groups of species are also highlighted and recent reporting
focused on appeals concerning birds such as Ludwig's Bustard (and several others), Verreaux's Eagle and the Blue Crane. Progress on the bird atlasing project, SABAP2,
within the region is also reported on regularly.
Birder Friendly Establishments, bird guides and tour operators contribute to the website regularly, thus enabling visitors to get an understanding of available services.
A variety of advertising opportunities are available and these include advertorials for larger reserves, guest farms and lodges, destination listings for smaller establishments
and banner adds for organizations wanting to advertise services. The information generated will also be reflected on the national birding routes website at www.birdingroutes.co.za
and the provincial website at www.westerncapebirding.co.za The money generated through the advertisements will go towards the upkeep of the website and the further marketing
of birds and birding in the Karoo.
The Karoo section of www.westerncapebirding.co.za has been established to promote the activities of BirdLife South Africa and its international partners in the Karoo and will continue to market the region as a top birding destination. For further information about advertising opportunities contact Anton Odendal at firstname.lastname@example.org