Red-Billed Chough Project in Portugal

September 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Features

The Red-Billed Chough species falls under the crow family. It is easily recognized by its features that include a longish curved beak and red coloring, red legs and pitch-black plumages that glisten in the sun. They are known to mate for life and also remain at their breeding site. Nests can be found on cliff faces and caves. But concern has grown over an area in Portugal where there once was an abundance of Red-Billed Choughs, and nests were an ordinary sight. The surrounding area of Chaos has not recorded a sighting of a Red-Billed Chough in a long time, and steps are being taken to correct the loss of these birds in the area.

The herding of goats in the Chaos countryside was once a very active form of agriculture, but as the agricultural lands began to be abandoned, the vegetation and brush started growing at such a rate that the Red-Billed Choughs could no longer forage underneath the bushes as they used to, and the insects that used to breed in the goat excrement and provide these birds with extra nutrition are also no longer found here since the goats were removed. Efforts are therefore being made to revive the industry of goat herding to enable the Red-Billed Choughs to once again populate the area.

The project has enlisted the assistance of two candidates who herd the newly acquired goats, as well as monitoring the birds, natural herbs and orchids which are found in the area. To raise funds, the project has brought in a tourist angle, allowing visitors to Portugal to be goat herders for a day explore the beautiful landscape and receive a guided tour of the natural wonders and sites in the Chaos countryside. In addition, organic cheese production is a product that potential goat herders can invest in, especially as the project is incorporating tourism into their attempt to save the Red-Billed Chough population. It is hoped that the project will jumpstart the industry of goat herding and in doing so, provide the Red-Billed Chough with a habitat again. These endangered birds can be saved, with dedication from the project, assistance of the community and support from visitors and tourists. Tourists will be able to explore a new world while playing a vital role in saving the Red-Billed Chough in Portugal.

Rwanda Celebrates its Birdlife at Britain’s National Birdfair

August 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Features

Visitors to this year’s British Birdfair in Rutland will discover the wonders of Rwanda’s birds, from the Great Blue Turaco to the most sought after Shoebill stork. The Rwanda Development Board/Tourism and Conservation will be showcasing the country named “Land of a Thousand Hills”, from the 21-23 August 2009.

A landlocked central African country, smaller than Belgium, Rwanda is a verdant country of fertile and hilly terrain, home to over 670 species of birds. Though famed for its big game and primates, Rwanda boasts fascinating wildlife that will appeal to all nature-loving tourists. In particular, its unique avian wildlife makes this an ideal destination for bird lovers. It is projected that by 2012, Rwanda will generate 11,000,000 USD from birding.

Described as the birdwatcher’s Glastonbury, Birdfair encompasses the whole spectrum of the birdwatching industry whilst at the same time supporting global bird conservation. With hundreds of stands selling the latest products for wildlife enthusiasts, as well as lectures, quizzes and book-launches, this is the event of the year for bird lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.

The various hot spots for birdwatching in Rwanda include Nyungwe, Akagera and Volcanoes National Parks, Cyamudongo Forest, Buhanga Eco-park, Rugezi Swamp, Nyabarongo Wetlands, Akanyaru Wetlands and Lake Kivu Islands. Some of the highlights of Rwanda’s birdlife to be found in the country’s rolling hills, rugged mountains, swamps and lakes include:

  • The elusive Shoebill stork, which has made a home for itself in the wetlands of Akagera National Park in the eastern part of the country – one of the densest concentrations of waterbirds on the continent.
  • The outlandish Great Blue Turaco, a popular highlight of western part of the country.
  • The rare Ring-necked Francolin, that have also made their home in Akagera
  • The not-to-be-missed fish eagles, asserting their status as the avian monarchs of Africa’s waterways
  • African Bird Club describes Nyungwe National Park as the only place in Africa where the Red-collared Mountain Babbler can be seen in safety.
  • If the amazing avian wildlife were not enough, there are also 13 primate species including man’s closest living relative; the chimpanzee.

To raise awareness of the importance of birds, a Birding Association has been set-up, bringing together all bird lovers from both the Government and private sector, working closely with the Tourism Board.

Emmanuel Werabe from the Rwanda Development Board/ Tourism and Conservation commented, “We’re excited to be travelling to the UK to showcase our country’s unique birdlife. Whether you’re a seasoned bird-watcher, an intrepid mountaineer or a curious culture-seeker, there really is something for everyone in Rwanda. This weekend we’re looking forward to meeting birdwatchers that are keen to expand their horizons.”

The Rwanda Development Board/ Tourism and Conservation will be at Stand 20 in Marquee 3 from Friday 21st – Sunday 23rd August.