The economic impact of birding tourism is also significant. Research estimates that more than $40bn (R653bn) is spent annually on birding in the US, and globally more than 3-million international trips dedicated to bird watching are made each year.
The depth of detail on GoBirding is impressive. Perhaps most useful is the interactive map of more than 400 birding sites, each listing detailed information about the location, how to access it, key months of the year, and notable species to be seen there.
There are also more than 60 birder-friendly accommodation options, and a comprehensive database of locally-based community bird guides.
It’s one of the most exciting projects linked to BirdLife SA’s avitourism initiatives, training and upskilling local nature enthusiasts into becoming competent bird guides.
The community bird guide project started more than 20 years ago, and to date more than 200 people from rural and disadvantaged backgrounds have been trained up to become professional bird and nature guides. While many have moved on to careers in affiliated industries, such as safari tourism, there remains a network of more than 50 community members working as freelance bird guides, largely concentrated in the birding hotspots of KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.