Birding is one of the fastest growing nature-based tourism activities world-wide and is experiencing similar growth in interest and popularity in South Africa. Avitourism has been recognised as an important part of the global growth in nature- based tourism; this according to the Department of Trade and Industry.
South Africa remains a premier destination for birding due to the diversity of bird species and habitats in the region. Avitourism refers to any travel outside of one’s usual environment to observe birds in their natural habitat. The Avitourism research study conducted by the dti found that the South African Avitourist market consists of up to 40,000 tourists annually.
Mpumalanga is the 2nd most popular birding province after the Western Cape, followed by Kwazulu-Natal, Limpopo ad Gauteng.
At Bezhoek, 280 species have been identified over the years. Considering that South Africa has around 800 confirmed bird species it makes this number quite significant.
Birding at Bezhoek is ongoing activity and significant effort is made to keep the bird list up to date and submit sightings to the relevant databases.
The Second Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP2) is the most important bird monitoring project in the region. It holds this status because all other conservation initiatives depend on the results of the bird atlas, to a greater or lesser extent. The project aims to map the distribution and relative abundance of birds in southern Africa and the atlas area includes South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. SABAP2 was launched in Namibia in May 2012.
The field work for this project is done by more than two thousand one hundred volunteers, known as citizen scientists – they are making a huge contribution to the conservation of birds and their habitats. On the most recent Winter count conducted at Bezhoek by Citizen Scientist Mr Pieter Vrey, 110 unique species were identified on the two pentads covering the reserve.
The Loskop Dam Nature reserve is designated an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area and being located less than 20km north of Bezhoek the number of sightings is to be expected.
Bezhoek is proud to be home to this wide variety of bird species and in particular a number of protected species. Sightings include the African Finfoot, Verreaux Eagle, Denham’s Bustard and Southern Bald Ibis on which various studies and assessments have been conducted.
For more information on birding and birding opportunities at Bezhoek contact us at email@example.com