Kruger 2 Canyons Birding Route Launched

PHALABORWA – It is hoped that birders from all over the world will flock to the area thanks to the launch of the Kruger 2 Canyon Birding Route, which took place at Sefapane Lodge on Thursday September 6, 2007.

The route, which includes various birding “must-see” destinations like God’s Window, the Strijdom Tunnel (the home of the Taita falcon), Klaserie Dam and the Kruger National Park, is aimed at encouraging what is called avitourism in the local tourism industry.

“The majority of birders actively plan birding trips to areas where they can either see a large amount of birds in a short time or mega rarities that would not easily be seen elsewhere. The newly created Kruger to Canyon Birding Route offers both of these highlights to visiting birders,” reads the Kruger 2 Canyon Birding Route brochure.

The primary role of the route, which enjoys backing from both the Phalaborwa municipality and the Limpopo provincial government, is to provide information about the birding possibilities on the route to tourists, but the initiators of the route, Birdlife South Africa, also have other goals.

"One of the key objectives is to promote the conservation of birds and their habitats through different research initiatives, community development and the education of communities, tour operators and accommodation establishments within the route on the ethics of responsible tourism," said a spokesman from the route organisers.

Accommodation establishments along the route are advised to align themselves to a framework environmental plan as drafted by Birdlife South Africa with the goal of making them "birder-friendly accredited".

These birder-friendly establishments are required to educate their guests on environmental and social issues as well as to support local community projects through procurement and recruitment policies. "Local community development is an integral component of the route with several initiatives currently underway," added the spokesman.

Development initiatives include the selection of local community members to undergo bird guide training, the establishment of an avitourism-orientated community-run lodge in the Tshwenyane Tribal Trust area, the establishment of a community-run nursery and a range of different community projects such as vegetable gardens and recycling programmes.

Education initiatives include bird ringing workshops for school children, organised day trips for local schoolchildren to the Kruger National Park, and an annual bird feeder building competition. The route is also involved with an education program to educate local farmers in responsible pesticide control measures to help bring down unnecessary raptor deaths.

The route is also involved in various research initiatives ranging from the monitoring of raptor species to specific bird populations like the Pel’s fishing owl.

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